Nova Scotia

Disruptions coming soon for Digby Neck ferry service

Repairs have begun on the slipways for the ferry that goes between East Ferry and Tiverton, N.S., but a resident is raising concerns about the lack of consultation ahead of time.

Resident says little warning was given before work began

Work is expected to take place on the Tiverton side from the end of October until December, and on the East Ferry side from April 2020 to August 2020. (Google Streetview)

Work has begun to repair slipways for the ferry that runs between East Ferry and Tiverton on Digby Neck, N.S., but a community member isn't pleased about what she says was a lack of communication before the work began.

The slipways need extensive repairs.

Marla MacInnis, spokesperson for the provincial Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, said in an email that there will be some service disruptions.

"The work taking place to the ramp, wharf and fenders are necessary to ensure the service remains safe and efficient for the long term," she said.

"Service disruptions will vary from day-to-day depending on the work that is being done, the tide and the weather."

The department did not make anyone available for an interview.

MacInnis said the province will give 24 hours notice before any disruptions begin, and disruptions have not been necessary yet.

The notice will be posted on Facebook, 511, and the Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Twitter account.

Work is taking place on the Tiverton side from the end of October until December, and on the East Ferry side from April 2020 to August 2020. 

Ferry only connection to mainland

Karen Crocker lives on Long Island, which is accessible only by the ferry service.

"All of our services are basically off the island.... If you have a doctor's appointment, if you need to go away to get groceries, if you have a dentist appointment," she said.

Around 600 people live on Long Island, which measures around 15 kilometres long and 5 kilometres wide.

Further west is Brier Island, which can only be accessed by ferry from the westernmost tip of Long Island. Brier Island has a population of around 200.

The ferry is the only connection from Long Island and Brier Island to mainland Nova Scotia. (Google Maps)

Crocker agreed that the repair work is necessary, but she said there wasn't enough consultation or communication from the province before work began.

The province held an information session on Oct. 25, but Crocker couldn't make it because it took place during working hours. She said she knows a number of community members who couldn't make it as well.

Crocker said there was little information prior to that, and she believes it's unacceptable to give under a week's notice for work that may disrupt ferry service for months.

"I'm dumbfounded that so little information has been made available to the people living here when this is going to have such an impact on everything for us," she said.

According to a slideshow presented at the information session, service disruptions of two to six hours could happen per tide. Work on the slips will only be done during low tide.

MacInnis said the date and time for the meeting was arranged by the local councillor, and it was followed up with a mail-out to residents. She also said the province will answer questions as they arise.

"Where possible, we will seek to complete repairs in between sailings and at night so that the impact to service remains as minimal as possible," she said in the email.

"We appreciate the patience of the public as we complete these necessary repairs."

She also said the community's school bus service will remain consistent and the department will work with Emergency Health Services to ensure the ferry is prepared to return to service immediately if there's a medical emergency.


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