New $10M ferry to navigate between Tancook and N.S. mainland

·2 min read

Big change is coming for the residents of the Tancook Islands off Nova Scotia's southern coast.

The federal and provincial governments are each chipping in $4.9 million to build a new vessel to replace the aging William G. Ernst passenger ferry, which is currently in refit.

A tender will be issued this week for construction of 18-vehicle ferry. About 200 people live on Little and Big Tancook islands, according to a news release Wednesday from the province's Department of Transportation.

The islands provide for a quiet way of life, and some residents may worry about the number of visitors a bigger, faster, more frequent ferry could bring.

Transportation Minister Lloyd Hines said the change is not likely to please everyone.

"I mean, there's pros and cons, and I'm sure there's a lot of argument for keeping Tancook the way that it is as much as there is for making the change to provide more access and better connection for people," Hine said.

"I wouldn't be so naive as to think that it will be unanimous support, but I think it certainly has majority support."

According to the provincial government, the replacement ferry will depart the mainland from Blandford, rather than Chester, which is currently the home port for the William G. Ernst.

Province of Nova Scotia
Province of Nova Scotia

The new route is expected to cut crossing times from roughly 50 minutes to a half hour. It's expected the ferry will be ready in spring 2022.

The shorter distance and new vessel will also mean a big increase in service. Rather than the current maximum of four crossings per day, the new ferry will have 11 crossings per day.

Hines said the province will need to spend about $20 million to build new wharfs and docking facilities.

"We need to install ferry boat receiving facilities at three locations, Little Tancook, Big Tancook and Blandford, and that is your typical receiving wharf, built to order for the ferry that's going in there," said Hines.