New Kamutik W schedule leaves some coastal Labrador residents angry

Jill Williams

Nearly 200 residents of Rigolet and area have signed a petition asking the provincial government to bring back the weekend ferry stop to their community. 

"We weren't expecting the cut," says Carlene Palliser, the Nunatsiavut Government ordinary member for Rigolet.

"That kind of caught us by surprise."

The Labrador coastal ferry used to stop in Rigolet four times a week – on the way up and down the north coast, and again on the weekend during the round trip south to Black Tickle and Cartwright. 

But when the new ferry contract was unveiled this year, the weekend trip was cut to a bi-weekly and then monthly service. Changes made after consulting with the community, according to the Department of Transportation and Works. 

"We don't know who they consulted with because there doesn't seem to be anyone in the community that knew this service was going to change," said Palliser.

Carlene Palliser

Palliser and other residents are now collecting signatures on a petition which will be tabled in the House of Assembly this fall by Lela Evans, the Progressive Conservative MHA for Torngat Mountains. 

Heavy impact

"I believe that when we received a new boat for the north coast, it should have enhanced the service rather than take away services," said resident Jill Williams, who is helping circulate the petition.

"We already pay too much money to travel and ship supplies to the north coast, and now the service for us to travel on weekends and between Rigolet and the south coast is eliminated."

Jill Williams

Williams said the decreased stops are costing people more than just money.

"Families often travelled between Rigolet and the south coast to visit family and friends, and they are not able to do so now without expensive stopovers in Goose Bay," she said.

Leona Saunders qualified the service as "backwards, no doubt."

She lives in Cartwright, and said to ship freight to the north coast, she has to either send it to Black Tickle and have someone reroute it from there, or drive five hours to the port in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

Jacob Barker/CBC

'No plans to change'

Not everyone is losing faith that changes may come, however.

Daryl Turnbull from Black Tickle thinks, with time, government will bring back the old schedule. 

"You can't take everything from people so hopefully, yes they will switch it back," he said.

But Rigolet's ordinary member has her doubts.

"I really don't think it's going to change because [government] don't seem to hear our concerns," Palliser said. 

And she may be right. 

"There are no plans to change the schedule of the Kamutik W," said a spokesperson for the Department of Transportation and Works. 

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