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Gagetown ferry back for the summer after province spends $100,000 on repairs

WATCH: The Government of New Brunswick has announced the Gagetown Ferry will be back in service for the bulk of tourist season. Global’s Laura Brown reports.

GAGETOWN, N.B. – The Village of Gagetown will see their ferry again, after the province announced they’ll spend $100,000 to make the repairs it needs.

For over 50 years, the cable ferry offered service between Gagetown and Lower Jemseg along the Saint John River.

But in February, a safety inspection resulted in the ferry being deemed unsafe. In March, Transportation Minister Roger Melanson couldn’t give reporters a timeline as to when or if the ferry would run again.

But Tuesday, the province announced the ferry will be repaired and back in the water in July.

READ MORE: Future of Gagetown ferry unknown

Operators of Grimross Craft’s in Gagetown said they’re thankful the ferry will be back in time for most of tourist season.

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“We get a lot of our business from tourists and they come across the ferry,” said Margaret Cheverie. “So it’s important that we get all that business and we get all that traffic, because otherwise our business would slow down considerably.”

The ferry connects Gagetown with Lower Jemseg. Laura Brown/Global News

It’s not the first time a government has threatened the ferry’s future. In the 2009/10 provincial budget, the ferry was cut.

It wasn’t until a working group was formed to prove its value that Shawn Graham’s government relented.

“As they say, been there done that,” said Maurice Harquail, owner of Step Aside B&B in Gagetown.

“I was here during that period of time and it was difficult. We had to put on a big push.”

That same push was planned if the Brian Gallant government didn’t replace the ferry this time. Gagetown will be losing their Service New Brunswick location and two nearby schools this year.

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The Jemseg Bridge has also been closed until further notice.

“The residents here, they own property on both sides of the river and they’re farmers so they need the ferry so they can go to each side of the river,” said business owner David Bell.

“Because you cannot transport farm machinery on the Trans Canada.”

READ MORE: Rural residents upset at the loss of Service N.B. locations

Conservative MLA for the area Ross Wetmore said it was good news, but he wasn’t happy about how he heard about it.

Wetmore said he hadn’t been formally informed of the ferry repair until Global News told him, despite his repeated calls for the service’s return.

“It’s very frustrating that this Liberal government doesn’t have the common courtesy to send out an email to the local member letting the local member know what’s going to go on the ferry,” he said.

“I have heard nothing.”

The province did not say if the ferry would be permanent and operating year-round. There will be reduced hours as well as new vehicle and volume restrictions.

READ MORE: New Brunswick ferries held up by maintenance 

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