Monday July 29, 2002

High Speed Ferry Between Toronto and Oswego Under Consideration

Imagine being a Canadian citizen wanting to visit the huge Destiny USA entertainment and shopping complex in Syracuse.
By Dola L. Deloff

    Imagine being a Canadian citizen wanting to visit the huge Destiny USA entertainment and shopping complex in Syracuse.

    Do you hop in your car and drive the over four hour ride to your destination, or do you roll your auto onto the high speed ferry and scoot across the lake for over four hours to Oswego and then drive down to Syracuse? It?d be a matter of preference, and it could come a reality within the next few years.

    The city of Oswego is discussing the possibility of a high speed ferry from Toronto to Oswego with the Canadian American Transportation Systems (CATS) which is currently investigating such an arrangement with the city of Rochester. The CEO for CATS has said that Oswego is not competing with Rochester for the service; they are two separate projects.

    Oswego officials met with CATS in June to discuss possibilities, but no proposals are on the table and no studies have been conducted yet, but all parties involved agree that talks will continue. Mayor of Oswego John Gosek has said that the city could benefit from the Destiny project and that the ferry service would be a great way to insure that benefit. ?Destiny?s going to evolve, and we?re going to be a part of it,? he said.

    Many area business leaders share the same enthusiasm. Michael Treadwell, executive director of Operation Oswego County, the county?s economic development organization, said that the ferry makes a lot of sense. ?It certainly has the potential to be viable,? he said. ?With sufficient traffic volume, it would be a success.?

    Treadwell called the trip across Lake Ontario ?logical.? ?It would be a nice way to spend a few hours,? he said. ?People could sit back and relax and not worry about the long drive.?

    The vessels that could be used by CATS are constructed by Austal Ships of Australia. They are 284 feet in length, 77 feet in width, and five stories tall. They can carry 800 passengers and as many as 200 vehicles. The ferry has a luxurious interior and an up-scale restaurant and lounges.

    Not only would the Canadian travelers benefit, but the city as a whole would as well, according to Treadwell. ?There would be a large economic impact,? he said. ?Existing businesses in the area would be patronized and spin-offs, such as more restaurants, hotels, and repair shops, would develop. These people wouldn?t even see Oswego if they traveled by car from Toronto to Syracuse. They would if they came by ferry.?

    Treadwell said he couldn?t see a downside to the plan. Steve Thomas, area businessman and chairperson of the Port Authority concurs. ?It is a feasible undertaking,? he said, admitting that there could be some concerns with regards to customs and security matters.

    ?It could take as long as five years to develop fully,? he said, ?but the area would only benefit.?

    Thomas said that, depending upon the ferry, travel across Lake Ontario would be possible during the winter months. ?The lake doesn?t freeze over,? he said. ?The right ferry could cross it without a problem.?

    Some changes would have to be made in the docking area of the port in order to accommodate such a vessel, he said, but specifics would again depend upon the ferry itself. Different sizes would require different modifications, he said.

    The businessman predicted that this was only the beginning of what could eventually happen throughout the entire Great Lakes region?bodies of water teeming with ferries traveling from port to port. ?And there are only so many ports on Lake Ontario,? Thomas said. ?And Oswego has one of them.?

    While agreeing that a ferry system would be a good idea, Kaylene Taylor-Bouchard, president of the Oswego Central Business District (OCBD), expressed some concerns. ?Who will pay for this?? she asked. ?What preparations is the city willing to make??

    Accommodating a ferry full of people is not something that could or even should happen overnight, Bouchard said. ?Many things must be looked into,? she said. ?Lighting, electricity, docking, information kiosks. This isn?t something that should be rushed.?

    The project calls for a long-term plan, she said. ?We have to be prepared,? she said. ?We can?t just let a boat land, say welcome, and expect people to know what do here and where to go. Business owners have to be happy to see the visitors.?

    Bouchard envisions sidewalk cafes and other vendors. ?Anything is possible if the business community comes together and supports it,? she said. ?We can?t forget about the visitors once they get here.?

Oswego County Business Magazine
Issue 158

Issue 158
October/November 2018

Cover Story

Profiles

Nancy Fox

On The Job

What’s Your Must-Ask Job Interview Question?

Success Stories

The Good Guys Barbershop

My Turn

Free Speech in a An Era of Racist, Vulgar Comments

Newsmakers

Newsmakers

Economic Trends

The Impact of Manufacturing and Power Generation on Oswego County

Last Page

Shonna Sargent