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The Campobello Island ferry. Image: Steve Mackin

UPDATE: Campobello Island ferry ending for the season Nov. 30

By Brad Perry Nov 24, 2023 | 10:45 AM

Residents on Campobello Island will have to go through Maine to get on and off the island this winter.

East Coast Ferries announced this week that its seasonal service will end for the year on Nov. 30.

“At this time there will be no extension. As of now, we have no further information,” the company said in a Facebook post on Wednesday.

The ferry typically runs from June through September but has been operating continuously since June 2020 due to restrictions on border travel as a result of the pandemic.

The New Brunswick government had been subsidizing the extended service on a month-to-month basis at a cost of around $60,000 a month.

Campobello Island’s permanent transportation link, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial Bridge, is connected to the mainland at Lubec, Maine.

That means a round trip to New Brunswick or other parts of Canada requires crossing the border four times when the ferry is not operating.

Since the pandemic began in 2020, there have been growing calls for a permanent year-round ferry service to the island, which has a population of around 1,000 residents.

“A ferry is needed to end Campobello’s second-class status so its residents have a domestic route to other parts of Canada, just like every other Canadian citizen,” New Brunswick Southwest Conservative MP John Williamson said in the House of Commons in May 2022.

Williamson said he researched the public accounts and discovered Ottawa provides $30 million annually to fund ferry services to remote communities within British Columbia.

“For the past two years, Ottawa has rightly labelled Campobello a remote community,” said Williamson.

“It is past time that the federal government’s ferry support program was extended to New Brunswick so travel mobility rights on Campobello are recognized and supported by the Government of Canada. It is a matter of fairness.”

In a statement Friday afternoon, the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure said the province continued to subsidize the service on a month-to-month basis during the off-season due to travel restrictions at U.S. border crossings.

Spokesperson Tyler McLean said this year’s subsidization was extended through November to maintain this transportation link for island residents.

“The province has not committed to providing provincial funding for the ferry service outside of border travel restrictions and has brought the issue to the attention of the federal Minister of Transport Canada on several occasions,” wrote McLean.