As of July 1, ferry service will be restored to the Village of Gagetown, N.B., following a shutdown that lasted several years.
The provincial government announced the ferry’s return on Monday afternoon, just two weeks ahead of its first scheduled day of service.
A statement on the New Brunswick government website says that it will run seven days a week continuing until the fall. A tweet on the province’s Twitter account indicates it will operate for 12 hours each day although the hours aren’t listed.
Ross Wetmore, the minister of agriculture, aquaculture and fisheries, and the area MLA have long fought for the reinstatement of the ferry, which locals say was an important transportation link, particularly for farmers who were forced to drive slow-moving vehicles around the body of water, making for a longer journey.
“Having reliable access to transportation infrastructure is critical for any community’s long-term viability and success,” Wetmore said in a statement. “Restoring the ferry service will also ensure the tourism and agricultural sectors in Gagetown and surrounding communities continue to grow and thrive in the years to come.”
In the statement, N.B. Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Bill Oliver added: “Our government committed to returning ferry service to the people of Gagetown and today we fulfill that commitment.”
“Having this ferry service back in the community will be a huge benefit for the tourism and agricultural sectors in the region.”
The re-addition of the Gagetown service brings the total back to six crossings on the Saint John and Kennebecasis Rivers. They operate free of charge to the more than 3.5 million passengers who use them each year.
“We have the ferry back and we’re very, very pleased to have it back,” explained Wilf Hiscock.
Hiscock has been a part of the Save The Gagetown-Jemseg Ferry Committee since it was launched following the cancellation of the service.
He says the residents worked tirelessly; hosting potluck dinners to fund raise, meeting with all levels of government, building an online presence to push their message and sending around a petition which garnered thousands of signatures.
He views it as the culmination of many volunteer hours given up by hardworking residents who knew the value it presented and never once accepted the loss.
The passion shown by the concerned residents he says indicates how strongly they care about their community and the people who call it home.
“I can think of one farmer in particular that it would take him 15 minutes from his home to get to his 300 or 400 acres on the Jemseg side,” he explained of the ferry. “It now takes him well over an hour with heavy equipment.”
Minister Wetmore indicated the ferry service is estimated to cost $300,000 this year however he expects that number will be lower due to a reduced season.