Island resident doesn’t see ferry extension as long-term solution

Tanner Riche/Courier The Campobello Island ferry has been extended until May 31, 2022, and then the regular season starts June 1. But not all island residents feel this is a long-term solution.

CAMPBELLO ISLAND – It wasn’t a surprise move. Last week, on the heels of a rise in cases due to the Omicron variant of COVID-19, and the changes to crossing the Canada/U.S. border, the Government of New Brunswick has extended the Campobello Island season ferry.

“The Campobello ferry service is being extended to May 31, 2022,” said Mark Taylor, communications director for the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure. “After that, the regular seasonal service will start.

“We want to provide Campobello residents with certainty at this difficult time,” Taylor added.

Taylor said the estimated cost to taxpayers for the extension of the service will run in the ball park of $60,000 per month.

“Good news for Campobello families,” said NB Southwest MP John Williamson in a Facebook post. “Ferry service to/from Deer Island will continue to operate all winter. Campobello residents won’t have to drive 85 kilometers through Maine to get to mainland New Brunswick.”

But not all island residents see the ferry extension as the long-term solution.

“Here is why the current ferry arrangement doesn’t actually work for most, resulting in low usage,” island resident Kathleen Mitchell told the Courier.

“If I were to use the ferry for an appointment in Saint John, I would need to schedule an appointment on a day the boat was running, and make that at 1 p.m., as it’s after lunch and more likely to be on time.

“I would leave at 9 a.m., which would put me on the mainland at 10 a.m.”

Mitchell said then it’s all about the perfect timing of running as many errands as possible prior to the 1 p.m. appointment, run some final errands, and return to Deer Island for the latest ferry at 3:30 p.m., or the last connection to Campobello will have left.

“That’s just crazy,” said Mitchell, “and it costs me $54 to put myself on a nearly impossible schedule. Giving us a service that isn’t practical and then acting like it is our fault we aren’t using it simply setting us up to fail.

“It is like trying to plow snow with a Honda Civic,” Mitchell added.

But she also has a solution.

“We need a ferry service with a workable schedule just like the other islands,” she said.

“Check out the White Head, Deer Island, and Grand Manan schedules. Grand Manan residents have a co-pay, and they also have gas stations, fully stocked grocery stores, restaurants and motels open year-round, and a hardware store.

“We need a real ferry not just the extension of a service designed to run during the summer months only.

“And I do appreciate the efforts put into this extension, however it is marginally better than nothing, and far from what we need.”