A current affair: Creating quick access for river rescues

In Ontario, Niagara Falls FD makes plans to build boathouse on Welland River

In Niagara Falls, a.k.a. the Honeymoon Capital of the World, there are pleasure cruises aplenty.

Jim Boutilier’s volunteer colleagues are out on the water for a different reason.

“Currently we’re using the public boat launch, at Chippawa Boat Ramp Park, to get out onto the Welland River,” says Boutilier, chief of the Niagara Falls Fire Department. “The city has done a marvelous job in developing this boat launch, and creating a public recreation space—families, picnics, a place for kids to play.

“That’s increased the usage . . . but that’s also delaying us in getting out on to the water for rescue scenarios,” he adds. “Even though we’re arriving with lights and sirens on, when someone’s in the middle of loading or unloading a boat, they have to finish the process.

“There’s a fair bit of congestion in that area—and we’re not able to get on to the water as quickly as we’d like.”

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That’s why Niagara Falls FD, in recent months, unveiled plans to build its own boathouse on the Welland River. The 1,500-square-foot Station 4 Boathouse will house both of the department’s marine units and associated rescue equipment, and give firefighters access to the Welland River year-round and the Niagara River from April through November.

Targeting both public and private dollars, the department hopes to have its boathouse complete by summer 2018.

Enbridge is committed to improving safety and quality of life in the communities near our operations and projects, including the Line 10 Westover Segment Replacement Project.

In 2016, we contributed more than $4.6 million in community-strengthening initiatives across Ontario, including grants from our Safe Community program.

A recent $10,000 Enbridge grant to the Niagara Falls FD for the Station 4 Boathouse project has allowed the department to begin design and engineering work in advance of fundraising.

“We’re working with local businesses and organizations like the Chippawa Dock Association on different strategies for fundraising,” says Boutilier. “If everything lines up, we’re hoping to break ground in spring or summer next year.”