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‘Three months is too long’ Digby to Saint John ferry service delayed until late April

Bay Ferries Limited has announced that service between Saint John, N.B. and Digby, N.S. will be disrupted from Jan. 24 to March 4 due to regularly scheduled maintenance.
The Digby to Saint John ferry service is delaying opening until April 26. -Submitted

The Digby to Saint John ferry, the MV Fundy Rose, isn’t just used for tourists.

Local seafood and trucking companies also rely on the ferry for easier access to New Brunswick year-round.

“This time of year, the roads are the worst, the weathers not the best and it makes a longer trip for my drivers,” said Brian Reynolds of Reynolds trucking in Port La Tour.

The ferry has been off its route since January 24. Service was originally supposed to be back up and running in early March, then it was pushed back to late March.

Then service was supposed to be restored April 10. Now a notice on Bay Ferries' website says the service won't be back up and running until April 26.

"Bay Ferries Limited and The Government of Canada have capital, maintenance and repair projects ongoing concurrently at the Saint John, New Brunswick and Digby, Nova Scotia ferry terminals, as well as upgrades aboard the MV Fundy Rose," Bay Ferries said in a press release on April 8. "Due to a number of factors, including weather, completion of the project on the Saint John terminal facility must be extended." 

The MV Fundy Rose is owned by Transport Canada and leased to Bay Ferries Ltd. Transport Canada said in an email the fenders on the Saint John ferry terminal are being replaced because they were at the end of their service life.

Transport Canada said they are working closely with the project’s contractors to ensure there are no further delays.

But for truckers who rely on ferry to get their product to market, the absence of the ferry has been problematic.

“Three months is too long,” said Reynolds, who said this is the longest closure of the ferry he remembers.

Reynolds was relying on the service to open back up on April 10, so he could give some of his drivers vacation time. Now, the drivers he has available will have to work harder to make up for the delay. 

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For Southwestern Nova Scotia truck drivers trying to get to Saint John, they have to drive through Truro and the Cobequid Pass, to Sussex and then they arrive in Saint John.

“It’s an extra seven hours driving one way, 14 all together. And it’s not necessary,” Reynolds said.

It’s not just the trucking industry hurting, it’s the product suppliers that the trucks ship for too, he said.

“It hurts all around, everyone has to meet their deadlines.”

Transport Canada said the project is taking longer than expected due to weather conditions and a delay in getting some materials for the project.

Some companies are looking for answers on why Transport Canada did not have the supplies ready for the project before the closure.

The slow season for southwestern seafood transporters and truckers is between the end of September and end of October. Repairs during this time would have been easier for the industry. 

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