Ottawa invests $13M in P.E.I.-N.S. ferry

The federal government is putting up $13 million to maintain the ferry service that runs between Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.

About 150K vehicles crossed on the ferry last year, says Transportation Minister Rob Vessey

Renovations include work on the ferry berth at Wood Islands. (CBC)

The federal government is putting up $13 million to maintain the ferry service that runs between Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.

The money will purchase new engines for the MV Holiday Island, rehabilitate docking facilities both in Caribou, N.S. and Wood Islands, P.E.I.

"Our government understands the importance of ferry services to the local communities throughout Atlantic Canada," said Peter MacKay, the local MP for the riding on the Nova Scotia side, in a news release.

Gail Shea, the minister responsible for ACOA, was also on hand for the announcement.

"Well, it is a significant announcement because, as you know, we’re spending $13 million to upgrade the infrastructure on both sides of the strait to ensure that the ferry service has the infrastructure it needs to continue its service," said Shea.

Bev Stewart is with the Wood Islands and Area Development Organization and helps to run the local lighthouse.

"I think it’s wonderful, I think it’s needed. The ferry is the Island way of life. It’s how you come to the Island, it’s the way you should leave too," said Stewart.

Don Cudmore, general manager of the P.E.I. Tourism Association, said the ferry is an important part of the Island tourism experience.

"I just come off the ferry, the ferry was chock-full and full of families and it’s all part of the trip," he said.

Progressive Conservative Leader Steven Myers said this is an important investment in the service.

"It’s good to see that kind of investment and it certainly gives hope that there’s going to be a long-term arrangement in place to keep the ferry service here," he said.

Transportation Minister Rob Vessey said it's not only tourists who use the service.

"There’s been 150,000 vehicles last year cross with about 380,000 passengers or more and for fishing, for farming, for construction — there’s a lot of people that use this," he said.

Work on the breakwaters at Wood Islands will begin in October and on the berths on both sides of the Northumberland Strait in November.

All projects are scheduled to be completed by March 2014.

Ottawa is in negotiations with Northumberland Ferries on a new service contract. The current one expires in 2014.

"We’re looking at a long-term plan for the ferry service. As you can see it’s very important, not just for businesses in Kings County but for tourism on Prince Edward Island as well — not only does it bring tourists to the Island but it's actually in itself a tourist attraction," said Shea.