New Brunswick expands ferry service for Island of Grand Manan

The province of New Brunswick is funding three additional weeks of the summer ferry season for the island of Grand Manan. Robert Lothian/Global News

Expanded ferry service for the New Brunswick island of Grand Manan is welcome news for the nearly 2,600 residents who live there.

Last week, the province announced it would spend $34.8 million on ferries this year, an increase of about $8.6 million from the year prior.

“It also includes … $625,000 to extend the Grand Manan supplemental season for three extra weeks this year,” Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Jeff Carr said at the time.

Typically, there are four daily round-trip crossings. However, from June 19 to Sept. 17, there are an additional three crossings.

“It’s a start,” said Morton Benson, speaking to Global News from a boat off of Grand Manan.

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Benson, a co-owner of Benson Lobster Co. Ltd and BenMark Trucking, compared the ferry service to a highway. He said it can be “limiting” during periods when there are fewer crossings.

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In an ideal world, he said, the supplemental season would span from the Victoria Day long weekend until Christmas.

Additionally, he would like to see the fee for the ferry, which is charged on the return sailing to the mainland, dropped.

“I think it should be free like the rest of the highways. There’s no paid highways in the province of New Brunswick — all other ferries are free, and all highways are free,” Benson said.

“Why are we second-class citizens and have to pay for our highway?”

Click to play video: 'Anxiety on Grand Manan Island after Medevac services end'
Anxiety on Grand Manan Island after Medevac services end

In an interview with Global News on Tuesday, Bonnie Morse, Mayor of the Village of Grand Manan, said their growing population means there’s more travel.

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“We’re really excited, extending our summer season is something we’ve been talking about for quite a while,” Morse said.

Grand Manan has become a significant tourism destination. For those visiting the island in the summer, Morse said the later departure time can be “more palatable.”

The three additional weeks of supplemental service are also expected to ease any travel congestion at the tail end of the tourism season.

“People are still travelling through the month of September in particular, so to be able to extend that later on in that month, I think it gives people still the opportunity to travel, you know, both to the island and from the island,” Morse noted

Global News requested more information from the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure on how the funding will impact ferry crossings, but did not receive a response by publication time.

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