New Brunswick

Government hand may be needed with Campobello ferry, tourism minister says

New Brunswick Tourism Minister John Ames says the government may have to become involved providing a ferry service to Campobello Island.

Now the only way off the island is over a bridge that crosses into Maine or in a water taxi

Campobello Island is accessible by ferry for only four months of the year, but there's been no service at all so far this summer. (Julia Wright / CBC)

The province's tourism minister says the government may have to become involved with providing a ferry service to Campobello Island.

"There are a lot of factors to consider," John Ames told Information Morning Saint John.

"Do we continue having a service provided by a private company? Or is it something they might have an ask in for government to subsidize or have a partnership — or the government completely runs one itself?

"We do need to have these conversations."

Residents feel left behind

Residents of Campobello Island say they've felt neglected ever since the ferry that connects the 800-some New Brunswickers to Deer Island failed to return to service this summer.

The ferry is being repaired, but a return date hasn't been set, and East Coast Ferries, the company that owns the vessel, is not answering questions from the public. 

Now the only way off the island is over a bridge that crosses into Maine or, as Ames suggests, by hiring water taxis. 

Ames said the provincial government has been in talks with East Coast Ferries and the Campobello Year-Round Ferry Development Committee, which is studying the feasibility of a year-round ferry to the island in the Bay of Fundy.

Tourism down

Ames said the private company told his staff it intends on having the shuttle running sometime this season.

"As unfortunate as it is for the island communities, business and tourists, it's also affecting them," Ames said.

"They're working very hard every day."

Residents of Campobello Island say they've felt neglected ever since the ferry that connects the 800-some New Brunswickers to Deer Island failed to return to service this summer. (CBC)

But Ames said other questions surrounding the ferry's future will also have to be asked, including whether it will continue to sail to Deer Island or the New Brunswick mainland.

Residents have said they've noticed a considerable lack of tourists on the island this summer.

And for those residents who do need to leave the island regularly, once they cross into Maine, it can take up to an hour to reach the nearest crossing back into Canada.

Private discussions

Although residents have been kept in the dark, Ames said conversations about the long-term plans for the ferry service are happening in the background. 

"And they have been happening for quite some time," he said.

"I think the responsible way forward —  to look at the long run — is to continue having these conversations, work with these groups and individuals and figure out a consensus." 

About the Author

Joseph Tunney is a casual reporter for CBC News in Saint John. He can be reached at joe.tunney@cbc.ca

With files from Information Morning Saint John