The St. Lawrence Seaway celebrated its 50th anniversary on March 31, at the St. Lambert Lock. Inaugurated in 1959 by Queen Elizabeth II and President Eisenhower and proclaimed as one of the ten most outstanding Canadian engineering achievements of the past 100 years, the Seaway stands as evidence of an enduring asset. Since its inception, over 2.5 billion tonnes of cargo valued in excess of $375b has been transported via the Seaway.
“The Seaway has been successful for the last 50 years and, despite today’s challenging economic conditions, we are pressing ahead with a number of initiatives to position the system for success during the next 50 years”, emphasized Richard Corfe, President and CEO of The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC). Mr. Corfe was joined at the ceremony by his American counterpart, Collister Johnson Jr., Administrator of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC).
Corfe outlined how lock equipment is being updated by applying today’s technology and how these enhancements will improve services provided to Seaway users. A hands free mooring system currently being tested in the Seaway’s Welland Canal holds the potential to automate much of a vessel’s transit, while accommodating a wider variety of vessels into existing lock chambers.
Incentive programs initiated by the SLSMC were credited with attracting over 1.8 million tonnes of new cargo to the Seaway last year, contributing $3.2m in incremental revenue. “We are optimistic that efforts to streamline Seaway operations, coupled with toll incentives, will attract new users to the system while spurring our customers to invest in new vessels”, stated SLSMC CEO Corfe.
On the subject of environmental stewardship, SLSDC Administrator Johnson underlined how ballast water management practices made mandatory at the beginning of the 2008 season are having the intended effect. “No unmanaged ballast water is entering into the Seaway. We are witnessing tangible results from our efforts”, noted Johnson. “Ballast water” refers to water that is pumped into tanks onboard an unloaded cargo vessel in order to stabilize its transit, and is later released upon the loading of cargo.