March 12, 2019 9:20 am

Wolfe Islanders upset over lack of public consultation on ferries from MTO

WATCH: Last September, the Ministry of Transportation changed the Wolfe Island ferry schedule on a temporary basis, with the promise that a new schedule would be released in time for spring. But as Paul Soucy found out, the temporary schedule will be around for a while longer.

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All is quiet in Marysville, Ont., this time of year. The main village on Wolfe Island doesn’t see much traffic during the winter months, especially with the ferry going to the winter dock at Dawson Point.

But switching to the winter dock wasn’t the only change for islanders this past year. An interim ferry schedule was implemented back in September.

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“It was unnecessary,” said Wolfe Island resident Judy Greenwood-Speers of the change. “If there would have been public consultation earlier, there could have been a better schedule devised.”

Residents have grown frustrated by the new times, particularly the long break from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.

The changes were made to accommodate crew shift changes, lunch, maintenance and fuelling requirements.

READ MORE: MTO: Wolfe Island ferry terminal consultations to begin this spring

But islanders say the break in service has created a bottleneck to get onto the ferry in the morning, with many having to wait in line for the next boat.

“You will see every car lined up (at the dock) and running,” Greenwood-Speers said. “You want to talk about a climate emergency? Everyone’s having to stay warm in the wintertime for hours waiting for the boat to come in.”

In addition to the bottleneck, township officials agree the early morning break would be better done in the evening when fewer island residents are looking to get to Kingston.

“The bulk of the traffic is between six in the morning and six at night so if we could go through that period without a break it would be ideal,” said Frontenac Islands Mayor Denis Doyle.

The new schedule was initially set to take effect this spring once the ferry started docking in Marysville, but the Ministry of Transportation notified township officials on Friday that it won’t be happening.

READ MORE: Wolfe Island residents concerned about ferry schedule changes

Doyle says he’s optimistic that public consultation with the Ministry of Transportation will lead to a ferry schedule that will accommodate as many residents as possible — while keeping the MTO happy, too.

“They assured us that they’re concerned as well. They obviously want to keep their customers happy so we’re sure that we’ll come up with a better compromise,” Doyle said.

As for the MTO, the ministry says it now feels like it needs to consult more widely before making any further changes to the schedule.

“The ministry is committed to listening to the ferry users and, with assistance from the township, will review the results of public consultation,” said Bronte Walker-Moores, communications co-op with the Ministry of Transportation, in an email to Global News. It’s unclear when those consultations will take place.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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