St. Lawrence Seaway opens 66th season

A ship sails upriver through the Iroquois Locks on the St. Lawrence Seaway in May 2022. (The Leader/Blancher photo)

CORNWALL – The 66th shipping season on the St. Lawrence Seaway is officially underway. The international shipping waterway officially opened for the 2024 shipping season on March 22.

The season opening marked not just the beginning of its 66th season, but a renewal of the management agreement between the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation and the Canadian government.

“We are thrilled to have a renewed Management Operations and Maintenance Agreement with the Government of Canada. This long-term contract brings stability and predictability for the Corporation and customers alike,” said SLSMC President and CEO Terence Bowles. “It allows the SLSMC to continue its mission of maintaining a safe, secure, reliable, environmentally-friendly, and cost-effective system.”

The new management agreement for the Canadian side of the Seaway renews the existing management arrangement that has been in place since 1998.

The SLSMC operates 13 locks on the Canadian portion of the Seaway system including the Iroquois lock in South Dundas. The U.S. Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation manages the remaining two locks of the 15 lock system that opened in 1959.

“The Government of Canada is committed to supporting the Seaway’s long-term economic growth and sustainability. We are working to make maritime trade as efficient and cost-effective as possible–so people can get the goods they need, when they need them, at the best possible prices, and to support good, well-paying jobs in Canada,” said federal Minister of Transport, Pablo Rodriguez.

The renewed agreement follows the completion of a review of the system that Transport Canada launched in 2017. The SLSMC said the agreement gives it resources needed to continue to maintain and upgrade the physical infrastructure of the Seaway system, however no financial details were included in the announcement.

The SLSMC, a not-for-profit corporation, has managed the Canadian portion of the Seaway system since 1998. The Seaway system will look to improve traffic in the 2024 season. Last year there was an increase of 3.4 per cent in tonnage shipped on the waterway while the actual number of ships that sailed the Seaway was down 1.9 per cent.

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