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Kingston business seeking compensation for revenue loss during LaSalle Causeway closure

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The Bascule Bridge of the LaSalle Causeway has been demolished, finally opening a crucial path for marine traffic, but at least one cruise ship company is not satisfied.

The federally-owned bridge in Kingston, Ont. was damaged during construction on March 30, and Public Service and Procurement Canada (PSPC) spent roughly two months trying to repair it before ultimately deciding to demolish the bridge.

"We do find ourselves asking why that couldn't have been done sooner," said Eric Ferguson, the general manager of Kingston 1000 Islands Cruises.

"Why did the engineers that assessed [the bridge] determine that a repair would be possible at all?"

The company has three cruise ships that typically start sailing on May 1, but this year, only one of them was able to start the season on time. The other two were docked at a marina on the other side of the Causeway and weren’t able to pass underneath while PSPC assessed damages.

"The impact for operators like us has been profound. We've been down to essentially one third of our fleet," Ferguson said.

"We're now pursuing compensation for that from the federal government. We believe that we have a strong case."

The federal government says repairs on the LaSalle Causeway in Kingston, Ont. could take 8 to 10 weeks to complete. (Jack Richardson/CTV News Ottawa)

In a press conference last week, PSPC said the government was not in a position to commit to any kind of reimbursement.

The two ships that were unable to start the season on time, the Island Belle and the Island Star, are able to hold 145 and 165 passengers, respectively.

The cruise ship season runs until the end of September.

The LaSalle Causeway spans the Cataraqui River in Kingston, where it meets the St. Lawrence River. It's also the southern terminus of the Rideau Canal system, connecting the St. Lawrence and Lake Ontario to the Ottawa River.

PSPC says it continues to develop a plan in partnership with the City of Kingston to reinstate access for vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians using a temporary bridge.

Preliminary work regarding a permanent replacement bridge is also underway. It's unclear how long it will take to permanently replace the bridge. 

With files from CTV News Ottawa's Ted Raymond

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