Truckers defy new Grand Manan ferry rule
Companies say Coastal Transport revealed a new policy on Saturday evening
Trucking companies that use the Grand Manan ferry are defying a new rule announced by Coastal Transport over the weekend.
The companies were told that drivers will have to accompany their vehicles on the crossings between Grand Manan and Blacks Harbour.
"I thought at first it was a prank call," said Bev Fleet, ownder of Dutchmen Contracting. "I just started calling the other truckers and see if I they got the same word, Saturday night for a policy change on Monday morning - not real professional."
Morton Benson of BenMark Trucking said companies used one driver at each end to move the trucks once they arrived.
"We pick it up back at this side, two hours later, and then unload it, or refill it, whichever way it's going, then we ship them back and forth," he said.
"But we don't ride the ferry just for the sake of riding the ferry."
On Monday morning, the truck drivers took their vehicles onto the ferry and walked off.
The RCMP were posted at the ferry terminal but they did not stop them. Coastal Transport workers also did not halt the drivers.
Toby McLaughlin, the owner of Foggy Cove Ventures, said he is unsure about what prompted this rule change. But he is adamant the new rule will hurt his business.
"We're all smaller companies. It's hard to find manpower as it is and to find an extra person to sit with the truck, which you are not even allowed on the car deck, while the ferry is operating. It's pointless. It's crazy," McLaughlin said.
Driver Kevin Hurley said the rule is a blow to everyone's bottom line.
"We wouldn't get half this product moved. And in order for these fellas on the island to get their money, fisherman to get their money, and everybody else right around the circle, these trucks gotta be moving," he said.
Short notice given for rule change
BenMark Trucking's Benson said he feels it is ridiculous to expect companies to pay drivers to sit aboard the ferry doing nothing while it crosses the Bay of Fundy.
A spokesperson from the province's Department of Transportation said there are no new policies in Costal Transport's contract, but the company is now liable should anything happen to the cargo.
There are other changes happening for Coastal Transport on Monday.
The company, which operates the Grand Manan and White Head ferries, is taking over Deer Island ferry operation.
The Department of Transportation announced the $13.8 million deal earlier this month.