SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- An online petition for year-round ferry access for residents of New Brunswick's Campobello Island is heading to the House of Commons with hundreds of signatures.

During the off-season, residents can only access mainland New Brunswick by going through the United States, which is a cause for concern, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Three months out of the year, residents of Campobello Island can get to the New Brunswick mainland by a seasonal ferry service.

For the other nine months, they have to travel through the U.S., looping through Lubec, Maine.

It’s a long-time problem that’s now prompted a petition.

“After 9/11 and the border measures they had taken, the border has become more of an issue with things becoming more and more restrictive as far as good and services trying to get to and from the island,” says Justin Tinker, Chair of Accessible Campobello.

Tinker says the island’s population has declined by 30 per cent since 2001, and he’s working to connect those residents who remain with year-round ferry service. 

A petition to the government of Canada calling for year-round ferry service has now garnered more than 700 signatures and has been certified for presentation to the House of Commons.

“It’s moving beyond this to when the seasonal ferry isn’t running, Campobello becomes totally inaccessible and that needs to change and it needs to be a priority for government, both in Fredericton and in Ottawa,” says Tinker.

John Williamson, the Conservative Member of Parliament representing Campobello Island, is supportive of the petition and says it will keep the issue on the front burner for the federal government.

“I think the main thing is it will signal that there’s a real willingness here at home for this ferry to move ahead, and what I’m finding across the province is that there’s a general agreement that the residents of Campobello should have a full-time link to the rest of Canada,” explains Williamson.

Williamson says he will be presenting the petition when Parliament returns in September.