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Belfast-Murray River MLA says future of ferry service still unknown

Canada Day brings a new ferry schedule from Northumberland Ferries.
FILE PHOTO: Northumberland Ferries.

A task force formed to support P.E.I.’s ferry service to Nova Scotia should continue, says the MLA for the region it serves.

Speaking to the media Tuesday, Belfast-Murray River MLA Darlene Compton said what the new model for the ferry service will be and who will run it are still unknown.

“We’re not there yet. That’s why we still need the task force involved,” she said.

Calls for long-term support for the ferry service have been ongoing for years with funding coming from the federal government.

RELATED: Ottawa seeks 20-year commitment for N.S.-P.E.I. ferry service

Last year the federal government announced a two-year contract with Northumberland Ferries for the service.

In 2016, the MV Holiday Island was pulled from service because it needed extensive repairs.

After those problems arose, the province formed a task force, which made six recommendations in support of the ferry service.

Compton moved a motion in the legislature in 2016 calling for the creation of that task force.

There was unanimous support for the motion.

The government also announced last year it was issuing a request for information from any private sector companies that might be interested in running the service under a 20-year commitment.

On Tuesday, Compton said there are still concerns about the possibility that one of the ferries will be taken out of service again.

“We need to ensure that the service is a service that people want to take,” she said.

During question period, Compton asked Premier Wade MacLauchlan to continue the task force.

MacLauchlan responded that the regional economic advisory council for the eastern part of the province had some overlapping membership with the ferry task force.

The economic advisory council identified the importance of the ferry service to the region, including tourism, the economy, strong communities and population development, MacLauchlan said.

“I’m confident that work is being carried forward through the regional economic advisory council and all the relationships that are involved, notably responsibility of the federal government.”

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