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Several business owners are planning to file a lawsuit against the federal government regarding a botched bridge renovation that has caused congestion in the inner harbor and put numerous jobs at risk. The refurbishment of the LaSalle Causeway has led to construction delays, trapping commercial vessels in the inner harbor and making the only drydock in eastern Ontario inaccessible from Lake Ontario. Originally set to reopen on May 1, the causeway will miss the deadline due to negligence during construction, according to the president of St. Lawrence Cruise Lines. The delay is considered unacceptable, as it has impacted several businesses in Kingston, which rely on the marine industry for significant economic contribution.

St. Lawrence Cruise Lines, which operates the Canadian Empress along the St. Lawrence and Ottawa rivers, has suffered financially due to the delays caused by the bridge renovation. The company generates substantial economic activity from Kingston to Quebec City, but the government’s failure to commit to a definitive reopening date for navigation has forced the cancellation of the Empress’s inaugural cruise. With the only drydock in eastern Ontario inaccessible, all vessels in the area, including local ferries and those from New York state, lack access to repair facilities. This has further exacerbated the situation for businesses relying on the marine industry in the region. Transport Minister Pablo Rodriguez and local MP Mark Gerretsen have failed to take action, prompting Clark to threaten legal proceedings if the government does not act promptly.

Clark emphasized that the federal transport minister is legally obligated to partially reopen the causeway by May 1, in time for the navigation season, to free the trapped vessels and provide access to the drydock. Despite proposing a feasible solution to resolve the issue, Clark has criticized the government’s inaction and accused them of neglecting their duty to protect Kingston jobs and businesses. If the federal government does not expedite the reopening of the waterway, St. Lawrence Cruise Lines has instructed its legal counsel to initiate proceedings in the Federal Court of Canada. Clark expressed frustration that litigation may be necessary to compel the minister to fulfill his obligations and address the crisis affecting the marine industry in Kingston.

The delays caused by the botched bridge renovation have had a significant impact on businesses operating in the marine industry in Kingston. Clark highlighted the economic contributions of the marine industry, amounting to millions of dollars annually, and the potential bankruptcy faced by several businesses if the situation is not resolved promptly. While progress from federal bureaucrats has been sluggish, Clark remains hopeful that legal action will pressure the government to take the necessary steps to reopen the waterway. The lawsuit against the federal government is a last resort for business owners, who are determined to protect their livelihoods and ensure the survival of the marine industry in Kingston. By holding the government accountable through legal means, business owners hope to bring attention to the negligence that has jeopardized their businesses and jobs.

In conclusion, the lawsuit against the federal government over the mishandled bridge renovation reflects the frustration and urgency felt by business owners in Kingston’s marine industry. The delays caused by the construction of the LaSalle Causeway have trapped vessels, made repair facilities inaccessible, and put businesses at risk of bankruptcy. Despite efforts to engage with government officials and propose solutions, business owners have been met with sluggish progress and inaction. The threat of legal action is a necessary step to compel the government to fulfill its obligations and protect the economic livelihoods of those affected by the botched renovation. The lawsuit represents a collective effort by business owners to hold the government accountable and seek justice for the negligence that has endangered their businesses and jobs.

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