Trevor Holder defends Grand Manan park cuts

Tourism Minister Trevor Holder is defending his department's decision to cut 13 employees at Anchorage Provincial Park on Grand Manan and start looking for an outside company to operate the facility.

Tourism department is seeking an outside company to run Anchorage Provincial Park

Tourism Minister Trevor Holder is defending his department’s decision to cut 13 employees at Anchorage Provincial Park on Grand Manan, saying the facility was losing money.

Tourism Minister Trevor Holder said Anchorage Provincial Park lost money last year. (CBC)

The provincial government announced it was laying off the Anchorage Provincial Park staff last week and was looking for an outside company to operate the provincial park.

Holder said the decision was made as the provincial government faces difficult financial times.

"We didn't make money on the park and it was one of those ones that we would have subsidized," Holder said.

"That's why, you know, I think we need to have an opportunity to look at ways we can find another opportunity, outside the box, to operate it."

Without a third party to run the facility, Holder said he doesn't know if the park will be open at the end of May when the season begins.

The decision to cut staff at the provincial park on Grand Manan comes at the same time the Department of Transportation announced a reduction of sailings of the Grand Manan ferry.

A provincial government review of the Grand Manan Adventure's daily runs found the 85-car ferry is operating at only 40 per cent of capacity.

As a result, the provincial government is cutting the number of round trips between the island and the mainland during the summer months to six from seven. The winter schedule will be reduced to three round trips instead of four.

The department is also looking at increasing the crossing time between Blacks Harbour and Grand Manan to two hours from an hour-and-a-half.

Waiting in line for the ferry to Grand Manan, Gene Gillies said he was angry about the reductions in ferry service.

"It's terrible. We have so many doctors’ appointments and we can't make the 5:30 p.m. boat and we have to get the last boat," Gillies said.

Liberal MLA Rick Doucet, whose Charlotte-The Isles riding includes Grand Manan, said the provincial government is going to hurt island residents’ ability to work.

"Jobs over there are very minimal unless you leave the island. And now here's the case with less number of trips going back and forth. Forget about working on the mainland," he said.