Port of Windsor is open for business! Looking forward to a great shipping season!
North America’s St. Lawrence water system – which includes the Great Lakes – is one of the largest in the world, and is responsible for draining more than a quarter of the Earth’s freshwater reserves. The artery of this system, the St. Lawrence River, reaches deep into the interior of this massive continent, connecting the Great Lakes system to the Atlantic Ocean.
To celebrate Water Wednesday with WWF and Love Nature, let’s look at five facts about this diverse waterway.
The St. Lawrence is enormous. The river proper, at 1,197 km in length, runs northeast from Lake Ontario towards the Atlantic, where it forms the Gulf of St. Lawrence. All in all, the whole St. Lawrence system is 3,058 km. This behemoth of a river is still fairly young, having only formed around 10,000 years or so ago when the glaciers began retreating, exposing a giant gash in the Earth’s crust.
Because it flows through such a vast portion of the continent, the river has many different habitats, ranging from Great Lakes freshwater systems all the way to the saltwater ocean environments of the estuary. There are around 83 different documented land and aquatic mammals that call the river and its associated gulf home, including the much adored and endangered beluga whale. Before they were hunted to extinction regionally in the northwest Atlantic, walruses used to swim here too. Part of the Atlantic Flyway, the river is a hotspot for at least 400 species of birds, such as bald eagles, ospreys, and black terns.
When it comes to the depletion of fish stocks, years of pollution and commercial fishing has had massive impacts. The fishing communities that first drew Europeans into the eastern ocean-facing mouth of the river aren’t what they used to be. Herring, sturgeon, and salmon have all been fished to a fraction of their historic populations.
Sports fishing enthusiasts still flock to stretches of the river famous for their small and largemouth bass, northern pike, carp, and muskellunge (a.k.a. muskies). To reverse the decades of commercial over-fishing, research and funds are going into restoration and turning around the plight of some of the river’s most iconic species. WWF’s Loblaw Water Fund, for example, supports on-the-ground restoration work across Canada and in the St. Lawrence River watershed.
The beaver, mink, muskrat, and fox populations historically decimated by the fur industry have gotten a lot of help over the years from government and private groups. Most populations are on the rebound, but beavers and muskrats are still under pressure in some regions by development and human encroachment.
There’s an enormous wealth of plant life in the many various ecosystems along the river, some 1,700 species we know of right now. That includes species of the beautiful and rare lady’s-slipper orchid, and some curiously named specimens like Fernald’s milkvetch, Connecticut beggarticks, handsome sedge, and Philadelphia fleabane.
One of the most significant opportunities to restore the health of this ecosystem involves managing the flow of the river and lake levels in a way that reflects a more natural state. A new plan, Plan 2014, is coming together and if implemented would has unprecedented restoration potential.
Settlers began constructing canals to control boat access along parts of the river and the Great Lakes as early as 1783. By 1932 Canada had already linked Lake Ontario and Erie, but the US was still wary of a mutual project. By 1954 they were finally convinced, and in 1959 the mutually constructed St. Lawrence Seaway and Power project opened, connecting Montreal to Lake Erie.
Economically speaking, the project was a huge success for both countries, and the feat is still deemed an inland-water engineering marvel. But progress often brings problems. Invasive species that hitched a ride on incoming vessels now line the length of the river, and have been causing serious concern for decades now. At least 85 invasive aquatic species have been cited in the river itself, and more than 180 non-native and invasive species exist in the Great Lakes. Zebra mussels are probably the most well-known example. They were first spotted in the Great Lakes in the late 1980’s, and they’re now spread throughout the entire system, choking out competitors such as native freshwater mussel species.
Like just about every other waterway in the world, the St. Lawrence system is under threat from the usual myriad of stressors such as, development, over-harvesting and pollution.
Recently, the City of Montreal dumped billions of litres of untreated wastewater directly into the river to clear out sewer buildup. WWF-Canada remains opposed to this action and, should a similar issue arise in future, urges the City of Montreal to seek other solutions
Another concern is the possibility of oil spills from boats and underwater transport lines. And just last year, McGill University researchers uncovered microplastic pollution levels in the St. Lawrence on par with the most contaminated ocean sediment samples.
WWF is working to safeguard the St. Lawrence River and has completed assessments on the health of, and threats to, the major watersheds flowing into the mighty river. Read the report here: watershedreports.wwf.ca
After one of the best years in the Port’s history in 2015, total port traffic declined in 2016 with the near-completion of the early works at the customs plaza which will service the new Gordie Howe International Bridge. That work had led to a surge of over 50% in construction aggregates in 2015, but with its completion, aggregate volumes dropped by almost 30% in 2016. This resulted in a decline in total traffic volumes of 15.49% for the
David Cree, President & CEO of the Windsor Port Authority stated “Any declines in traffic are always disappointing, but in this case we were certainly expecting the drop-off in construction aggregates with the near-completion of the early works at the Bridge. We are anticipating that once construction starts on the bridge itself, we will see a further surge in construction aggregates during those years.”
There were several bright spots for the year with steel imports increasing by 28% and grain and related products increasing by 24%. In addition, petroleum products which are handled through the Sterling Marine Fuels dock increased by slightly over 3%.
Other important milestones during 2016 included the on-going rehabilitation of the park and fishing pier at the end of Mill Street, the purchase of green space adjacent to the Port Authority’s offices on Sandwich Street which will be utilized for community purposes, and the purchase in partnership with the Windsor Police Services of a new 25ft WAC SAFE Boat which will greatly enhance marine patrol capabilities on the Detroit
In conclusion, Mr. Cree stated “All-in-all, despite the significant decline in total port traffic, 2016 was a very productive and positive year for the port in many ways. We are looking forward to slightly higher cargo volumes in 2017 and with virtually all of the revenue earned by the Port Authority being re-invested into our community, we will continue to be a leader in the economic and social well-being of the City of Windsor.”
For further information and inquiries, please contact
David Cree, President & CEO
Click on the link above to read full article as published in The Windsor Star, October 14, 2016.
Below, Windsor Port Authority Officials visit the USS Detroit.
Top of Form
Saturday September 17th, 2016
Posted at 3:34pm
The Annual Olde Sandwich Towne Festival is celebrating their 26th year in 2016, with proud vendors and attendees showing their support in spite of the unfavorable weather Saturday afternoon.
The festival gives everyone a chance to experience Olde Sandwich Towne and enjoy some shopping from local vendors, meet other local organizations, and have a chance to enjoy the activities and displays such as the Sandwich Farmers Market and the Essex County Medieval Heritage display & demonstration.
The festivities will continue tomorrow and be part of Windsor’s Open Streets event. Windsor Port Authority gives away many prizes, treat and goodies at the festival each year.
Windsor Salt mine expansion ‘great news’ for port authority
CBC News Posted: Jul 27, 2016 8:18 AM ET Last Updated: Jul 27, 2016 8:18 AM ET
About 200 people work at the Windsor Salt mine.
The CEO of the Windsor Port Authority says it’s “great news” the Ojibway salt mine is expanding.
Windsor Salt will invest more than $60 million to expand to the next mining level, another 121 metres below ground.
The investment will help boost production and extend the life of the mine by nearly 50 years.
That means steady business at the Windsor Port Authority.
“It’s great news for the Port of Windsor and the port authority and obviously Windsor Salt. They’re one of our biggest operators here in the port; traditionally the largest single terminal in the port,” Windsor Port Authority CEO David Cree said.
Last year, from April 2 to July 31, 1.4 million metric tons of salt was shipped through the St. Lawrence Seaway, which includes the Port of Windsor.
Windsor Salt said the journey of one cargo vessel takes almost 1,000 truckloads off Ontario highways.
As part of the expansion, Windsor Salt is also converting its mining method and upgrading its equipment.
The company employs more than 200 people in Windsor.
Windsor Port Authority CEO David Cree is photographed in his office at the Windsor Port Authority in Windsor in this 2012 file photo. Tyler Brownbridge / Windsor Star
A nearly 50 per cent increase in stone and construction aggregates — used largely to build the customs plaza for the planned Gordie Howe International Bridge — helped the Windsor Port Authority record a 3.8 per cent increase in traffic in 2015.
Total tonnage for the year reached 5.6 million tonnes, a figure well above the port’s five- and 10-year averages, the port authority said.
Although there were declines in several of its cargo categories, such as salt, petroleum, grain and general cargo, the big increases in stone and construction aggregates were remarkable, according to CEO David Cree.
The port authority suffered a slump in tonnage in 2014, after a record year in 2013. The results for 2015 were described as a nice rebound.
A recent news release noted that almost all the port authority’s net earnings are reinvested back into the community. In recent years it has helped make improvements in the Sandwich area, including development of the new HMCS Hunter naval reserve facility and improving fish habitat along the Detroit River shoreline.
“As our short- and long-term projections remain positive, this will allow the port authority to continue to make significant investments in Windsor’s future,” port authority chairman George Sandala said in the release.
-Brian Cross, Windsor Star
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3190 Sandwich Street
Windsor, ON Canada