Residents of Gagetown and surrounding areas held a protest at the New Brunswick Legislature on Wednesday.
The demonstration was led by the Save the Gagetown Ferry committee, in hopes of convincing the provincial government to bring back the ferry.
According to residents, the ferry connects the village of Gagetown to areas on the other side of the Saint John River, such as Lower Jemseg, and they say it’s vital for business and tourism in the village.
Residents say they’re frustrated by the response they’re getting from the government.
Save the Gagetown Ferry committee member Wilf Hiscock says he’s angry that the government is refusing to fix-up the old ferry, or purchase a new one.
“We want our old ferry back on right now; $300,000 will operate it for the year,” said Hiscock.
“And it would mean to me, not just me but for the community, it means surviving or not surviving. It’s just that simple.”
The provincial government says the current vessel isn’t up to safety standards and it would cost just under $1.5 million to upgrade the old ferry. The government says that would only extend its lifespan by five to ten years, and the cost of a new ferry would be over $5 million.
READ MORE: Future of Gagetown ferry unknown
Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Roger Melanson says he realizes it’s an inconvenience for residents. He says the government had to make a choice on where to spend money, and want to focus on projects that benefit the entire province.
“We believe because there’s an alternate route, we’ve made the right decision. I’ve also went and met with the committee and I’ve met with the mayor and I’ve listened to their concerns and I know there is concerns and it will have to be a period of adaptation how people commute,” said Melanson.
There is federal funding available under the New Building Canada Fund says Serge Buy, CEO of the Canadian Ferry Operations Association. Buy it’s up to Melanson and the province to determine which infrastructure projects they want to invest in.
READ MORE: New Brunswick ferries held up by maintenance
“The fact of the matter is there is funding available and the funding does cover the purchase of ferries — either new builds or direct purchase if needed,” said Buy.
While the government is standing by its decision, residents say they will keep fighting for the cause.
“We’re not giving up. We’re not going to give up,” said Hiscock.