Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

River Rouge forced to ship off

Alexander Dock being assessed for safety

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The MS River Rouge is docked at the Alexander Dock Wednesday.

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

The MS River Rouge is docked at the Alexander Dock Wednesday. Photo Store

THE owner of the MS River Rouge says he's being kicked out of the Alexander Dock, where the ship has always moored.

Kyrakos Vogiatzakis said he received notice three weeks ago the dock was being shut for repairs.

"They said the ship can no longer go there. They're calling the dock unsafe, but no reviews or engineer reports have been brought forward (to me)," he said.

The MS River Rouge is Canada's largest river cruise ship, says the line's website. About 46 metres long, the one-storey ship usually runs from May to October, doing a mix of public cruises and private bookings. Originally launched in 1967, it has changed hands frequently since 1986, until Vogiatzakis, brother of mayoral candidate Mike Vogiatzakis, bought it in 2007.

Vogiatzakis said the floods earlier this summer kept him from bringing the boat to the city, a decision that cost him a lot of revenue.

"Seven out of eight years, I've been hanging in there, keeping my head above the water. I'm taking a beating, financially," he said.

Vogiatzakis also questioned how unsafe the dock could be, if the city let more than 1,000 people gather there for a vigil Tuesday evening.

"The dock is definitely safe. Why would they let 1,500 people there if it's unsafe?" he said.

Another problem for him is his liquor licence and zoning licence both are tied to the dock, he said. If he's forced to move, Vogiatzakis said he doesn't know how that would affect his licences.

"There's nowhere to go, and even if there was, it wouldn't be zoned properly, and I wouldn't have my liquor licence," he said.

"They said (20 years ago) this is going to be your future home for years to come... and now they're trying to get rid of us," Vogiatzakis said.

A spokeswoman for the city said in an email the dock needs an engineering assessment, which requires docking to stop. Right now, the city is placing fencing and signage in the area that will let people know docking is no longer allowed.

When asked for a timeline of when or if the dock would be reopened for boats, the spokeswoman said the next steps would be determined after the assessment has been finished.

The spokeswoman also said the city recognizes the importance of the MS River Rouge to the community.

"City staff have been and will continue to work directly with this business owner to seek a workable solution for the river boat that allows for the needed assessment of the condition this particular dock," the statement said.

oliver.sachgau@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 21, 2014 A2

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