. Ferry still out
Service shutdown due to low water levels

Jorge Barrera
Northern News Services

Yellowknife ( May 19/00) - It's still unknown when ferry service across the Mackenzie River at Fort Providence will resume.

The Department of Transportation's marine services pulled the service Monday, blaming low water levels due to an ice jam.

As of Thursday afternoon, when the ice jam finally broke and began moving down the Mackenzie river, officials were still unsure when water levels would become high enough to resume operations.

"Usually it takes a week, but this is not a normal year," he says. "Low water levels and ice make it impossible to travel across," says Les Shaw, director of marine services.

Randy Wedel, a researcher with the Water Survey of Canada, is more metaphorical.

"It's sort of like an overtime game in the NHL playoffs," he says.

"It's going to end eventually, you just don't know when."

Troy Patenaude, manager at Big River Service Centre which sits on the banks of the Mackenzie River near Fort Providence, says he's never seen the water this low before.

"I had a boat docked and a couple of days later it was right out of the water," he says.

Business is suffering in Fort Providence, he adds, as a result of the ferry stoppage.

"We rely on traffic coming through. It's really hurting us."

Water-level watchers with Water Survey Canada have predicted low water levels on Great Slave Lake, the Liard River and the Mackenzie for spring and summer.

"Hopefully the water will increase," says Shaw.