Letter to the Editor – Harry Valentine things it’s Back to the Future for the Port of Cornwall Ontario – October 21, 2011

Older generation residents of Cornwall may recall the old days when the city was a bustling river port that included a drydock. New York State proposes to impose new rules that pertain to the ballast water carried aboard ships that sail along the St Lawrence Seaway. After 2012, westbound ships that arrive at the Eisenhower Locks near Massena may expect the equivalent of a comprehensive “rubber glove” inspection of their ballast tanks. If the contents of the tanks do not meet the new standards, the ship would not be allowed upstream.

The new ballast tank rules may open the door for the Port of Cornwall to once again provide service to ships. One option may be a water purifying business that may provide the equivalent of distilled water for ship ballast tanks. Other ship operator may wish to avoid the expense of loading their ballast tanks with distilled water, preferring to off-load their cargo at the Port of Cornwall. Some of that cargo may include shipping containers destined for the distribution centres located in the Cornwall business park. A fleet of near-silent diesel-electric hybrid tractor-trucks may pull processions of semi-trailers loaded with cargo through Cornwall city streets and into the business park.

Alternatively, Cornwall may go back to the future and re-activate the old railway line that ran along Water Street and connected into the old Cornwall docks. The rail line may be re-installed to the south of Harbor Road, Race Street and Water Street and connect to one of the old railbeds that once served the old Domtar paper mill. Perhaps there may be scope to negotiate with the new owners of the property to allow a rail line to pass through and cross over 2nd Street and 7th Street. Trains will have to operate at low speed along that railway line.

The citizens and City Council of Cornwall will decide as to whether or not such a rail line will actually operate in Cornwall. It is therefore important for Cornwall citizens to either voice their support for such a railway line and the jobs that it will create at the Port of Cornwall and in the city. Those opposed to the concept may wish to express their indignation that a railway line from Cornwall’s past could actually become part of Cornwall’s future and also express their regrets about the loss of future jobs at what could have become a re-activated Port of Cornwall.

Harry Valentine 

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