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Digby-Saint John ferry may be redeployed next year

There are a number of concerns for those who rely on the MV Fundy Rose, which offers daily ferry service to Digby, N.S., from Saint John, N.B., when it comes to a potential temporary redeployment.

In an email to CTV News, Transport Canada confirmed the federal department is exploring the idea of shipping the MV Fundy Rose to service a route from Souris, P.E.I., to Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC, at some point in 2024. The MV Madeleine II, the ship that currently runs the route, is slated for mandatory dry-docking maintenance, which could take up to two months.

During that time, there would be no ferry to fill the void of the Digby-Saint John line across the Bay of Fundy.

“Any disruption, delays, downgrades, or cancellations of this service period is very concerning and is quite frankly unacceptable to us,” says Chris McKee, who serves as the executive director for the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association. “It really is irresponsible of Transport Canada to consider basically robbing Peter to pay Paul by taking this ferry out of service and moving it to a different route.

“Our region’s ferry services are operating with the bare infrastructure and funding as it is.”

McKee says around 5,000 tractor trailers use the ferry service each year. He says the ferry line is key to supporting both aquaculture and agriculture industries in southern Nova Scotia.

“If a transport truck or a carrier has to take a land-based route around, they are adding hours to their travel time, they are adding hundreds of dollars in fuel if not thousands to their fuel cost,” says McKee, who also notes truck drivers can only driver 13 hours in a day by law.

“We pay about 15 per cent more fuel in Atlantic Canada then we do in the rest of Canada so we are already at an uneven paying field,” McKee says. “Add additional land travel to that rather than this ferry service and it’s just not good for our industry.”

Dan White is the CEO of the West Nova Chamber of Commerce. He says any disruption of service would be incredibly difficult for businesses and residents that rely on the ferry.

“Tourist season is coming up, the fishing season is already here,” White says. “We’ve got to get our goods to market and we can’t have uncertainty in the market place. How do you plan on business when you don’t know if you are going to have a ferry?”

White has started a petition opposing a disruption of the Digby-Saint John ferry service which already has more than 2,700 signatures. He says residents have been honest in voicing their concerns.

“I won’t see my kids, I won’t see my grandparents. You’re going to put me out of business, the fish won’t get there in time, it’s going to burn to much fuel, I can’t get more truck drivers,” lists White when it comes to residents’ concerns. “Temporary is not okay, we want our ferry and we want to keep it here.”

Transport Canada says no final decision has been made. Top Stories


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