Nfld. & Labrador

Find a new ferry, Bell Island residents plead

Residents of Bell Island are demanding that the provincial government find a reliable ferry to restore confidence in the breakdown-prone service.
Service on the Tickle in Conception Bay has frequently been disrupted. ((CBC))

Residents of Bell Island are demanding that the Newfoundland and Labrador government find a reliable ferry to restore confidence in the breakdown-prone service.

Two vessels were back on Conception Bay on Monday and Tuesday, providing a full service for the first time in more than two weeks.

Wabana Mayor Gary Gosine said residents have become accustomed to long delays, but said they should not have to put up with such an inconsistent service.

"The Nonia's back now, the Beaumont will be the next to break down, I guess," said Gosine, who also sits on a ferry user's committee scheduled to meet Tuesday night.

"If they break down, they don't know what to do. There's nothing in place," he told CBC News.

During the last two weeks, some residents were at the dock by 4 a.m. to ensure they could be at work before 9 a.m., he said.

Gosine said the government has told him that a permanent new vessel will take another 10 years.

Gosine said he wants the government to locate a reliable ferry to fill the void, and that government employees are not trying hard enough.

"[They tell] me there's nothing to be leased out there. Well, we know there's vessels to be leased, and we know that we can't go another week with the service we have," he said.

"We can't go another day."

Gosine said extra employees need to be brought on so there is less downtime, and a backup plan must be put in place in case of another breakdown.

He said he doesn't blame Transportation Minister Tom Hedderson, but rather those beneath him.

"He thinks he's leaving it in capable hands and its made our island and workers suffer and suffer and suffer," Gosine said.