It’s an issue that’s been building for years for some residents of Rockport, Ont.
Thousands of tourists brought in by hundreds of coach buses that sit and idle on the narrow main street of the riverside village.
Residents say the noisy buses and the pollution they spew as they idle are affecting their quality of life.
“There used to be two lovely houses here – framed houses,” said resident Margot Miller. “One was a heritage house. Built in the 1930s. Both have come down and the boat line is using it as a parking lot now.”
Miller has been a resident of Rockport for the past 30 years, but she says everything started to change 20 years ago.
“It was still a fairly small rural village, but gradually, as things got fixed up, a lot of the residents have been lost because commercial properties have moved in,” Miller said.
Part of that change are hundreds of large coach buses, bringing in tens of thousands of tourists to the village each summer.
Tourists come to the village to tour the Thousand Islands area on Rockport Boat Line Cruises.
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“I would say I have counted 180 bus passes in a day,” said Miller. “I’ve had times where they are lined up here (in front of her home), with their engines running, because they can’t get into the parking lot.”
For years, Miller and a group of residents have been asking the Township of Leeds and Thousand Islands for a solution — they say the growing noise and pollution are taking away from their quality of life.
“It is just that we haven’t seen any kind of movement on this at all,” said resident Elisabeth Sterken. “And yet, we see the issues and the problems escalating — rather than being addressed.”
The resident group says they have no issue with the boat line itself, saying the business brings jobs to the area.
Global News reached out to Rockport Boat Line for comment on the issues raised by the residents’ group, but was told no one was available and a statement would not be made at this time.
The mayor of Leeds and Thousand Islands, Corinna Smith-Gatcke, told Global News, that staff have been studying the matter and have met with both residents and businesses and that a report will be presented to council on June 3rd.
In the meantime, the boat line continues to grow.
“You keep buying more and more boats. Bigger and bigger boats,” said resident Blaise Delong. “You get more and more buses in and something has got to give.
“And it shouldn’t have to be the residents’ enjoyment of their property.”
With the busy summer months coming, residents say they want a solution as soon as possible.