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Toronto Islands residents face delays after ferry service stops because of hull leak

The Wards Island ferry dock is quiet as a hull leak was found in the William Inglis.

Peter Power/The Globe and Mail

Island residents commuting to the city had to deal with long delays on Wednesday after a ferry that transports people to and from the Toronto Islands had to cease operating when a "minor leak in the hull" was discovered, according to city staff.

After the structural damage was found late Tuesday night, island resident Frances Ford, who often notifies other island dwellers of service disruptions, received a call from the ferry captain informing her of the problem.

"I had a call at 11:30 last night from the captain of the ferry alerting me that they've had a problem [and] that they had to take the William Inglis out of service," Ms. Ford said.

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Without the regular ferry service available, the city implemented their contingency plan, which allows residents to use the island airport ferry to get across, according to Tanya Kavcic, operations support officer with Toronto's parks, forestry and recreation department. A shuttle bus transports people between Wards and Algonquin islands to Billy Bishop International Airport, where they can board a ferry that takes them to the mainland. The bus also returns residents from the city side.

But in order to reach the airport ferry, the bus must wait for the runway to be free of aircraft before it can be escorted across, according to Geoffrey Wilson, president and chief executive officer of the Toronto Port Authority.

This process has led to delays of up to an hour, residents say.

"Sometimes they're waiting for quite a while because there are a lot of planes there," said Penny Lawler, who has lived on the island for 40 years.

Ms. Lawler said the disruption to the ferry service has been inconvenient.

"It's very difficult for a lot of people and it's Christmas season, so people want to go into the city," Ms. Lawler said. "I'm retired so I can choose not to go into the city, but there were things I wanted to do and it's very, very inconvenient."

Residents are hoping regular service resumes quickly.

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Another ferry, the Ongiara, "is scheduled to come out of dry dock tomorrow or Friday so we can restore normal service," Ms. Kavcic said in an e-mail.

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