Missing ferry to Deer Island hurts N.B. tourist operators

Missing ferry to Deer Island hurts N.B. tourist operators

CTV Atlantic
Published Monday, July 23, 2018 10:36PM ADT
Last Updated Monday, July 23, 2018 10:39PM ADT

A usually busy tourism route in New Brunswick isn’t very busy this summer.

A loop that includes Campobello and Deer islands is missing a key link — a ferry service that connects the two islands during the peak tourist season.  

Diane Bustin says her restaurant would usually be packed over the noon hour. 

Not this year.

“It’s a ghost town,” she said.

The same is true of her motel. This and other businesses are no longer part of a well-travelled route connecting Campobello and Deer Island.

“This has been a loop that the people of New Brunswick have been taking for day trips for years. Like, I’m not getting my day trippers,” Bustin said.

Loop was severed when the private ferry linking the islands failed to return to service this summer. A refit is underway, but in the meantime, tourist operators are struggling.

“Do you know how many people, Americans we get that have cottages in Nova Scotia and P.E.I. and New Brunswick that come this way and they end up spending a night here on their way to their cottages?” said Bustin.

MLA Rick Doucet says he understands the frustration.

“It’s certainly an inconvenience from the tourism standpoint when you have a link being cut off like this,” Doucet said.

Doucet rebuffed calls for a subsidy or for the province to take over the ferry service, saying the private sector ferry will remain a private sector operation.

“It’s not on our radar screen right now to fund it,” he said. “I mean, let’s be honest,  we’ve got a lot of ferries that are operating in the province right now, and to subsidize another ferry is going to be a pretty costly venture for us.”

The loss of ferry service also means residents of Campobello are without a summer link to the mainland. They have to travel through the state of Maine to get back to Canada.

Visitors to Deer Island were caught off guard Monday.

“Our goal was to go to Campobello Island where we rented a nice little cottage,” said Ontario tourist, Chantale Cumberland. “So we’re driving down and I think, ‘wow it’s not very busy.’  And there are no cars behind me and we follow the signs to the ferry and we go down a dirt road and then there’s a boat, a fishing boat in the middle of the road.  And I think, wait a minute.”

It was only then that they noticed a sign saying the ferry is out of service.

Said Bustin: “The government has got to realize that these rural areas are just as important as anywhere else.”

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mike Cameron.