Should Wolfe Island Get a Bridge?

Wolfe Island, bridge, ferryThinking back on my wonder years, I can vividly recall family outings to Cape Vincent, New York, which involved two ferry rides and a short cross country jaunt across Wolfe Island.  It’s been years since my last trip to Cape Vincent, however on occasion, we still board the Wolfe Islander III and take the scenic voyage across to grab a bite or attend the annual music festival.  In recent years, the Island’s skyline has been drastically transformed with the addition of 86 wind turbines.  From an outsider’s perspective, despite an increased number of tourists seeking to get up close and personal with the wind farm, Wolfe Island has arguably retained many of it’s longstanding, small town charms.  That said, big chances could be on the horizon, as the Ministry of Transportation considers the future of the ferry system and the feasibility of replacing it with a bridge.  Accordingly, this week’s poll asks:

[poll id=”33″]

Kingstonians have been talking about a third crossing over the Cataraqui River for decades, and save for expensive environmental studies, we’ve little to show for it.  With that in mind, perhaps MTO’s mention of a Wolfe Island crossing isn’t cause for immediate concern.  Still though, as space on the Wolfe Islander III is limited and demand continues to increase, Island residents and passers-by may get frustrated with longer wait and travel times.  Funding for an additional ferry, constructing an alternate terminal or upgrading the fleet to accommodate more vehicles are all costly courses of action, but then again bridges don’t come cheap either.  In the end, Wolfe Island’s separation from the main land, and the effort it takes to get across, adds to adventure of making the trip.  Hefty price tag aside, bridging the gap could take away from the Island’s allure, making it too accessible, more touristy and otherwise developed.  What do you think will happen to the historic link between Kingston and Wolfe Island?  How would a bridge change your perception of, and life on the Island?

Special thanks to Paul Dyer for today’s accompanying photo.

Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

15 thoughts on “Should Wolfe Island Get a Bridge?

  • It's hard for me to say since I'm a downtown girl and I've only been on the island about 5 times but I'm guessing that islanders will be torn on this one. I'm sure they'd be thrilled to have a quicker trip to and fro but not only would more tourists change the feel over there, but a bridge may entice more people to live on the island as well, which could really take away from its serenity. One thing I love when visiting is the solitude it has to offer. I'd love to hear what Wolfe Islanders think about this.

    • I think that a lot of people choose to live on the Island because it is somewhat disconnected, and not easily accessible. It's a small, seemingly tight knit community on the fringe of the city, with the best of both worlds if you ask me. Although I am sure some would prefer to go back to the Wolfe Island that existed before the arrival of the wind farm. Constructing a bridge would effectively open the flood gates for traffic to and fro. From an emergency point of view, that's a good thing, but it kind of ruins the whole serene Island vibe. I'd also be worried about follow on development, as a stable connection between Kingston and Wolfe Island could attract those looking to build sub-divisions, Tim Horton's etc… From a tax-payers point of view, I'd be interested to know how much a bridge would cost, and potentially save, in comparison to the ferry system. It would have to be a pretty ridiculous amount of savings for me to buy in potentially spoil the Island.

  • I live on the island – by choice – and there's absolutely no way I want a bridge, ever. There's probably quite a few people who do, but they seem to be people for whom shaving a few minutes off the trip to work is paramount – which makes me wonder why they chose to live on an island. But then the island also has quite a variety of people and things happening there – it's far from being one single, homogenous community. It's a unique place.

    And in terms of costs, it would be enormous and only justified if it was actually another bridge from Canada to the USA with the Americans paying half. That was proposed and voted on in Congress in the 70s but we said no. And there's no way that is going to happen again in the current economic and security climate, and it would take a massive, massive expansion of Kingston to make it economically viable in local terms. Kingston just isn't growing that much (thankfully).

    Did I forget to say that I would never want a bridge, never, ever, under any circumstances? Just thought I'd make it clear!

    • I don't live on Wolfe Island, and I think that it would be a good idea to have a bridge going from Wolfe Island to Kingston. If there was a bridge it would save people the time of waiting a hour or something for the ferry to come back.

  • As a former resident of Amherst Island I don't like the idea of bridging the gap for Wolfe Island, either. Virtually all my family still lives on the Island and its serenity and separation are very much part of the appeal. The building of a fixed connection effective turns the island into a sort of headland, which would absolutely make it easier to live on, easier to develop and, most likely, wash away the existing culture of the island..

  • It seems that there have been a few people voting for a bridge now or in the future, but none of them have told us why. I wish they would post, because I'd be quite interested in whether they are islanders or mainlanders and what they think the arguments are in favour…

    • Agreed, don't be shy people. It would also be interesting to hear from more Island residents. I've been studying the above linked Wolfe Island Tranpo Plan a bit closer, which I encourage everyone to take a look at. At the very least you should check out pg 15, which details possible new ferry routes and bridge locations. Interesting to note that the bridges would connect via the southern shore of CFB Kingston. Also, the new ferry route to Portsmouth seems interesting. I wonder if relocating the connection to and from the Island would really have an impact downtown traffic. I have to admit that I hate seeing a full ferry unloading cars onto streets that are gridlocked during rush hour.

      • Moving the Wolfe Island terminal out of downtown would also, potentially, create a nice location for a little waterfront park and a bit of parking right across the road from the LVEC.

  • Definitely no to the Wolfe Island bridge. The ferry isn't just what connects Islanders to the mainland, it's also what separates them. Most islanders cherish the social community of a village more than the amenities their proximity to Kingston offers. They stay on the island as much as they can, not on the mainland. Building a bridge means it in essence becomes mainland.

    Besides, we need another bridge across to hwy 15 MUCH MUCH MORE DESPERATELY.

  • I'm not a Wolfe Islander, but I've been over many many times, especially for school trips and the like. By adding a bridge at this point, I'm of the opinion that it would destroy the culture of the Island. My family comes from Nova Scotia (the Annapolis Valley, specifically) and it's not hard to see what damage can be done to a culture when you add a Timmy's down the street, or take out the local grocer with a Loblaws. If we put a bridge to Wolfe Island, there's no doubt that people would be offered tons of money to have their land taken away and built into something fancy like a subdivision or a Starbucks.

    Yeah, you have to wait a while to get on the ferry. But if you're on foot it's a much more economical option! So, I guess what I'm saying, is that if its tourism and other non-Island people clogging up the ferry.. provide more affordable/FREE parking by the ferry for people travelling over on foot.. !

  • As 3rd generation Islander I find the lack of comments (discussion of options) disappointing on a subject so vital to the Island and its future. Its no great secret that access to the Island must be improved, and at a cost that makes sense. A bridge won't happen any time in the near future for two reasons. One is the prohibitive cost, the other because there is no consensus on the Island regarding the best course of action. In the near term (10/20 yrs) shortening the ferry route (length and time) would appear to be the quickest and most economical solution. The major hurdle will be gaining some form of consensus from all of the stakeholders including Island/Kingston residents, Municipal, Provincial and Federal governments etc. The 3rd crossing to relieve pressure on the Causeway will also have to form part of the discussion. My vote would be option #A8 Dawson's Point to CFB.

  • The great absurdity of the current 'study' is that it is Kingston council and the MTO that are actually going to be deciding this issue. The Frontenac Islands council have not even been invited to take part, let alone being considered as equal partners in the discussion.

    I find it interesting to that even islanders talk about access TO the island, when surely from our point of view it's as much about access FROM the island…

  • I live on the island. This issue is yet another which might be contentious. I agréé with above posters that l happily endure the winter ferry expérience,the lack of amenities for the trade off of the walk I can take in solitude or living around people who are real and would be there for you in a minute if you needed them. I am not totally enamoured with what happens in the summer when cottagers and the masses descend on the island. It is hard to reconcile the revenue they bring with what is lost.

  • Maybe theyshould move the ferry away from the Timmies and KROCK Centre to say another part of downtown, perhaps closer to the waterfront down by the Hospitals, or by Block D or whatever.

  • I once heard that Wolfe Island was once — albeit briefly — being considered in the late 1940s to be declared international territory and would be the location of the United Nations headquarters before the decision was made to establish the UN in New York. Just how odd is that?

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