LEWISTON — The high-water line of Niagara River has brought unavoidable economic effects to communities living on both sides of the river.
For one business, those consequences are particularly visible.
“(This isn’t) a disaster season by any means,” John Kinney, president of Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours said recently. “But it's definitely full of challenges,”
Kinney’s company has two points of business. One of them is Niagara-on-the-Lake in Ont., and the other is the waterfront of the Village of Lewiston.
“The U.S. side is more of a challenge,” Kinney said of the multi-national business. “The waterfront redevelopment project has been put on hiatus because of water levels. It does seem that the critical mass on the U.S. side isn’t quite there as it’s been in subsequent years.”
Kinney first saw the Niagara River when he did a “stint” with the U.S.'s Wildwater Kayak Team. Originally, from Pennsylvania, Kinney drove through to northern Ontario right through Niagara.
“I first saw the rapids of Niagara as a 17-year-old ...” Kinney said. “It would be a great story if I could tell you that a lightning bolt hit me at age 17 that I would end up in the jet boating business … but that wouldn’t be the truth.”
However, life did intervene and Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours was opened later in 1992 making it 28 years old this season. One reason to celebrate is the advent of a new boat that will stay operational for as long as the river is ice free. That means, Kinney said, the business will stay open from March to December.
“That boat is going to be operational right to Christmas,” Kinney said. “We’re extremely excited about that, the ability to extend our season, the ability to work with our winery partners on both sides of the river that are doing more and more in the fall and into the winter.”
Kinney said that both sides of the river have “evolved” in the past 27 years and more and more the area is becoming attractive throughout the year. However, he sees a lot of obstacles ahead before it can reach its full potential.
“In the 28 years we’ve been here, we’ve experienced hot and cold on both sides of the river,” Kinney said. “I think Niagara Falls U.S.A., we really do need to get all the construction, all the road closures and detours and whatnot… everybody’s working for a common goal to make Niagara Falls the destination it can and it should be.”