Gagetown residents outraged with N.B. government’s ferry announcement
The New Brunswick government operates river ferries at six spots along the Saint John River, and next year, one of those locations will have a new $6.5-million ferry built at a shipyard in Caraquet.
That announcement came as a surprise in the Gagetown area, where a ferry service was cancelled last year in a government cost-cutting move.
"There was absolutely no money for it, and an upgrade at that time for our ferry would have given another 10 years life for a million bucks. And they didn't. They had no money to invest in that," says Wilf Hiscock, chairman of the Save the Ferry campaign.
Hugh Harmon says the loss of the ferry is still creating hardship in the area. He says tourism and road traffic have declined.
"If there's a new ferry being built, we would expect to at least get a ferry,” Harmon says. “If not a brand new one, to be perfectly frank. We need a ferry in this area."
As he announced the ferry construction on Tuesday, Transportation Minister Bill Fraser blamed the previous Tory government for the Gagetown situation.
"We had no money for roads, we had no money for bridges, we had no money for river ferries because of the decisions that Blaine Higgs made when he was finance minister," says Fraser.
Fraser says the province's finances have since improved, but not enough to restore the Gagetown service.
"I've been very clear and very clear with the people of Gagetown. We had to make that difficult decision. We are not reversing that decision," Fraser says.
The Tories are not making any promises, but are offering Gagetown residents cautious optimism.
“I know that we've talked to the people in Gagetown about their ferry and about what can and can't be done, and we've told them that we'll work with them and try to find a solution to that issue," says PC MLA Bill Oliver.
The provincial government has not determined where the new ferry will be assigned after it is completed, but the minister made it clear the new ferry will not be located in Gagetown.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mike Cameron.