2-vessel ferry service must be maintained for P.E.I., says MacAulay

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The MV Saaremaa has served well on the P.E.I.-Nova Scotia route, says Lawrence MacAulay. (Laura Meader/CBC - image credit)
The MV Saaremaa has served well on the P.E.I.-Nova Scotia route, says Lawrence MacAulay. (Laura Meader/CBC - image credit)

Lawrence MacAulay, P.E.I.'s representative in the federal cabinet, expects the ferry MV Saaremaa, on loan from Quebec to run between the Island and Nova Scotia, will be available to return to the route next year.

The province was fortunate to be able to secure a replacement ferry so quickly, following a fire on the MV Holiday Island, MacAulay said, adding the Saaremaa is serving well.

"Things happen, things break down, and that's why we need a two-vessel service," he said.

"Should we be able to keep [the Saaremaa] or have another one, that's good. But we have to make sure that we maintain the service."

It is still not known if the Holiday Island, launched in 1970 and due for replacement in 2027, can be repaired.

Shane Hennessey/CBC
Shane Hennessey/CBC

It has been a difficult summer for the ferry service, operated by Northumberland Ferries. The Holiday Island fire was in July, which left MV Confederation alone operating the service for about a month before Saaremaa was ready.

Then early this month Confederation had steering troubles. Passengers were stranded on board for eight hours, and the ship was entirely out of operation for a day.

But it appears people still have confidence in the ferries, said MacAulay.

"I understand the ferry service is still quite busy so that's important. Important for the economy of eastern Prince Edward Island and the trucking industry too," he said.

"If that's shut down, a paint brush is worth 50 cents more in Montague because of the travel."

Saving distance on the highway by taking the ferry also reduces greenhouse gas emissions, he said.

MacAulay praised Northumberland Ferries for its efficiency in navigating through the summer's problems.