Loyalist Township gets delegation with Minister of Transportation

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Loyalist Township gets delegation with Minister of Transportation
WATCH: A delegation from Loyalist Township will have an audience with Ontario's Transportation Minister to talk about the delays on the new Amherst Islander II – Aug 15, 2023

Just like residents of Wolfe Island, users of the Amherst Island ferry are still waiting anxiously for their new and larger ferry to come into service.

Construction on the Amherst Islander II was completed all the way back in 2020, but as 2023 begins eyeing 2024, the new ferry sits idle in the water, unused.

Some people, like longtime island resident Valerie Wolfreys, say it’s time to get it going.

“Facebook, it has a lot of information on there, and all of the people on there that are complaining. It’s time-consuming to sit and wait for hours for the ferry,” said Valerie Wolfreys, a longtime Amherst Island resident.

Loyalist Township Deputy Mayor Nathan Townend understands the frustration that residents feel.

“We’ve had a lot of feedback from residents lately, largely on social media for instance, and people are expressing frustration at the lack of information, frankly, but also the lack of, what is perceived as the lack of progress,” said Townend.

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Due to this inundation of “feedback”, Townend put out a statement on Monday to update his constituents with what he can.

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In part, the statement read:

“I can assure residents that Township staff are working diligently to address all remaining issues, many of which are complex and challenging”

The statement also included news that Loyalist Township council representatives, much the same as Frontenac Islands Township council, have secured a delegation with Minister of Transportation, Caroline Mulroney, at next week’s Association of Municipalities, or A-MO, conference, which takes place in London, Ont., over three days beginning Sunday.

Townend called the development “significant and encouraging.”

In a statement sent to Global News, the MTO said:

“We are mindful that the community of Amherst Island is eager to see the Amherst Islander II in service and the ministry is working collaboratively with the township to meet this goal. We want to assure you that we are working diligently to ensure its safe operation can commence as soon as possible to meet the needs of these communities.”

Townend said that council has done a lot of prep work ahead of their face-to-face with Minister Mulroney.

“We anticipate that will provide some concrete steps forward for us. We’ve submitted documents, that is the township has submitted documents, to the minister’s office outlining how we see a tangible, constructive way forward to get the boat in service,” he said.

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Whatever the plan is, Wolfreys just hopes it comes soon.

“We don’t want to go back to the Quinte-Loyalist,” Wolfreys said. ” That’s a small ferry, only holds about 18 cars.”

In the interim, Townend is asking residents for patience.

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