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 Niagara Gazette, January 2003

Dear Editor,


A plan for a high-speed ferry from Toronto to Porter, in Niagara County, has been in the news recently.  Three catamarans, each capable of carrying 250 cars and 1,000 people, will make trips “every hour on the hour from dawn until midnight,” says the president.   The plan envisions and influx of visitors from Canada streaming down the Robert Moses Parkway from Youngstown, New York, to the Seneca Niagara Casino in Niagara Falls, New York.  The parkway is essential to the plan, supporters say.  State Senator George Maziarz and Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte are among those enthusiastic about the idea.


Because the Niagara Heritage Partnership ( is part of a large coalition advocating the removal of the gorge rim parkway and the restoration of natural landscapes, we are less enthusiastic about the idea generally, and not at all accepting of the notion that keeping the gorge parkway is necessary for its operation.  We hope that both Maziarz and DelMonte have indicated to backers of this plan that there is enormous support for gorge parkway removal, but that alternate routes to the casino are available.  They should, in addition, be asking some tough questions about this imagined venture.  Why are we expected, for example, to the detriment of the region, to provide a highway to the casino for a private enterprise?


Newspaper articles report that big aluminum ships will “whisk” cars across the lake in 40 minutes and that in another 20 minutes they can drive the parkway to the Seneca Nation Casino.  But by the time the cars are “whisked” on and off board, and “whisked” through security, another two hours will have passed.  (Will Immigration and Naturalization be able to supply agents, technologies, and dogs to detect the potential drugs, explosives, and weapons that are of concern regarding any international traffic?)  So, for $264 Canadian, round trip, a customer will be able to bring a car, a friend, and another couple across Ontario and then drive the parkway to Seneca Niagara Casino where their money will be worth 35-40% less and substantial winnings will be subject to taxes.  People who think this is a good deal wouldn’t be bothered driving an alternate route to the casino; forty miles of dirt road wouldn’t faze them.


How long will it take the Canadians arriving in Niagara Falls, New York to realize that just several thousand feet away in Niagara Falls, Ontario, there’s a complex of Canadian casinos where they’ll get a bigger bang for their bucks?


The company floating this idea, International Fast Ferry (IFF) wants $40 million in state tax credits and to be operational by spring 2004.  Some people are already calling this scheme “the big if.”  The Canadian casinos or the province of Ontario should be subsidizing this enterprise, not the taxpayers of New York, and the money should come to Niagara County, where some public officials seem eager to provide a shortcut to Canada.  We could put it to good use, removing the gorge rim parkway and restoring the natural environment.



Bob Baxter, Conservation Chair

Niagara Heritage Partnership





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Niagara Heritage Partnership

MPO Box 1495

Niagara Falls, New York 14302-1723