New Brunswick gov't cuts Grand Manan ferry crossings
In a surprise cost-cutting move, the New Brunswick government is reducing the number of ferry crossings to Grand Manan Island.
“Grand Manan has been hurt enough in the last five years,” says area resident Jeffrey Ingalls. “We don’t need anything else taken away. We need something to help us improve.”
The provincial government is going to cancel one crossing a day in both the summer and winter, and island leaders worry the last crossing in the evening will be sacrificed.
“It’s a big thing for the economy of Grand Manan,” says Mayor Dennis Greene. “Our lobster buyers, our people in the aquaculture industry, that is the trip that they use to get to the Boston market.”
The service cuts come as Grand Manan residents wait for the provincial government to deliver on a key election promise to eliminate ferry tolls.
Islanders say Premier David Alward is breaking a commitment.
“There would be a toll-free ferry before the end of his mandate, and the trips, the service would not be cut,” says resident Rob Benson. “He said that himself, several times.”
The cuts are also coming just as Grand Manan makes the cover of this year’s New Brunswick tourism guide.
“Here we promoting Grand Manan and trying to get people to the island, and yet we’re pulling away the ferry service,” says Liberal MLA Rick Doucet. “Something is completely wrong here.”
The cuts will save the provincial government about $1 million each year.
“There are many changes coming in the department, and this is all about being more efficient and saving money for taxpayers,” says New Brunswick Transportation Minister Claude Williams.
The new schedule is expected to go into effect after government officials meet with civic leaders on Grand Manan Island next week.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Mike Cameron