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EDITORIAL: ANOTHER FERRY TALE

FILE PHOTO: The MV Holiday Island is shown at the Caribou terminal on its daily run between Wood Islands, P.E.I. and Nova Scotia in this 2014 file photo.</p>
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FILE PHOTO: The MV Holiday Island is shown at the Caribou terminal on its daily run between Wood Islands, P.E.I. and Nova Scotia in this 2014 file photo.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>

There comes a point when it makes more sense to buy a new vehicle than keep spending on repairs for an old clunker.

Northumberland Ferries Limited can relate to the problem of spending countless dollars keeping some of its old clunkers in service.

But the company got some good news in Tuesday’s federal budget – two new ferries to replace the MV Holiday Island and the MV Madeleine.

Built in 1971, MV Holiday Island has been living on borrowed time since the ferry fiasco in 2016.

That summer, the MV Holiday Island sat out the season – out of commission for extensive and expensive repairs.

The burden of ferry service between Woods Island, P.E.I., and Caribou, N.S., was placed on the shoulders of the MV Confederation.

Tempers reached a boiling point with Islanders, tourists and truck drivers waiting in long lines with hours of delays to board the lone ferry.

Public meetings were held by the province’s economic development committee and MLAs to discuss the state of the ferry service. It was widely agreed the time had come to replace the aging and unreliable MV Holiday Island.

And, just when it looked like things were getting back to normal with the return of the MV Holiday Island full service in September, the MV Confederation was sidelined for repairs.

It’s taken three years, but those calls for a new ferry have finally been heard by Ottawa.

Spending taxpayers’ dollars on a service that not everyone uses will always find its naysayers, especially those who use the Confederation Bridge, and are dealing with their own frustration over paying bridge tolls.

But one thing the summer of 2016 taught us is that we need more than one reliable way on and off this Island.

We also saw the economic impact that having a diluted and delayed ferry service had on tourism and lower revenues for local businesses.

With all the talk around the MV Holiday Island, it’s easy to forget the role the MV Madeleine plays in providing a service for travellers from Souris to the Iles-de-la-Madeleine.

Transport Canada’s ferry services contribution program was also extended to 2022 in Tuesday’s budget. This will ensure that two ferries are available to continue providing the service between P.E.I. and Nova Scotia.

The budget announcement did leave out a few important details.

We don’t know yet how much of taxpayers’ dollars will be spent replacing the ferries. And, we don’t know when the new ferries will be coming.

also don’t know if this is an election promise that will come to fruition no matter which party gains control of the House of Commons.

But we do know the vessels need to be replaced, and it’s long overdue.

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