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Since 2015, MV Fundy Rose has been ferrying travellers between Saint John, N.B., and Digby, N.S. Image: Bay Ferries

MPs write to transport minister over Saint John-Digby ferry proposal

By Brad Perry Nov 27, 2023 | 10:40 AM

Two Maritime MPs are calling for an emergency intervention from the federal transport minister over the Saint John-Digby ferry.

West Nova Conservative MP Chris d’Entremont and Saint John-Rothesay Liberal MP Wayne Long wrote a joint letter to Transport Minister Pablo Rodriguez on Friday.

The MPs said it is “unacceptable” that federal officials would consider suspending the ferry during “one of the most critical periods” of the year.

Transport Canada has said it may redeploy the MV Fundy Rose to service the route between Souris, P.E.I., and the Magdalen Islands.

The ferry that currently services the crossing, the MV Madeleine II, is scheduled for mandatory drydocking next spring.

Hicham Ayoun, a spokesperson for Transport Canada, recently told our newsroom that no final decision has been made.

“Pausing the ferry service during the most lucrative lobster season will lead to disruption of product flow and will have a devastating impact on the economy,” the MPs wrote in their letter.

“Our communities depend on the Digby-Saint John ferry, which enables the flow of live products by reducing transit times.

“The interruption of this service will force operators to delay delivery, resulting in poor quality of goods, in addition to finding additional truck drivers in an already challenged shortage.”

The MPs said the ferry’s operator, Bay Ferries, faces potential labour losses as employees will seek alternative job options elsewhere.

In addition, they said pausing the ferry service would impact the busiest tourism season in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

“While we understand the importance of maintaining the connection between Souris and Îles-de-la-Madeleine [the Magdalen Islands], we do not believe it should be at the expense of removing the vital transportation route between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick,” said the MPs.

“We trust that you will find a solution to fix the situation affecting Souris and Îles-de-la-Madeleine without causing harm to our region by keeping our ferry in place.”

The MPs are calling on the transport minister to immediately procure a roll-on/roll-off vessel asset, avoid further disruptions of the Saint John-Digby ferry service, and develop a long-term plan to address ferry transportation between the two communities.

Read my joint letter with West Nova MP Chris d'Entremont on the Saint John-Digby ferry service.

Posted by Wayne Long on Friday, November 24, 2023