New trucking rules for Grand Manan ferry on hold

Trucking companies using the Grand Manan ferry won't have to abide by a new rule that forces a driver to travel with their vehicles between the island community and the mainland — at least for now.

"We have met with Coastal Transport and they have agreed to allow truckers to continue past practices until a solution can be found," a Department of Transportation spokesperson stated in an email to CBC News late Tuesday.

"They will be bringing us a proposal to resolve this issue," the spokesperson said without indicating any time limit.

Coastal Transport is the operator of the Grand Manan ferry.

There are no new policies in Coastal Transport's contract, according to provincial government officials.

However, the company is now liable should anything happen to the trucks or to the cargo while onboard the ferry.

Drivers were supposed to begin accompanying their vehicles on crossings between Grand Manan and Blacks Harbour on Monday.

But trucking companies ignored the policy change and used one driver on each side to load and move the trucks, just as they've done for years.

Grand Manan Mayor Dennis Greene said he had been assured the changes wouldn't take effect for another week.

In the meantime, he wants to meet with the provincial government to discuss the new rule that is being imposed on truckers, he said.

Greene believes delays with picking up the trucks may be behind the new rules.

“In this new contract that takes place, Coastal Transport is fined if the ferry is delayed. So what they're saying is, ‘OK, you know, when have to depart on our departure time. We can't be five minutes late,” he said.

The Grand Manan mayor said there is pressure to get the vehicles offloaded swiftly from the ferry.

“Usually the trucks are the first off the ferry and we have people behind them who have doctor’s appointments. And if there's any delay getting off the ferry or the ferry happens to be delayed, people are late for their appointments,” he said.

Some trucking companies complained on Monday the new rules could cause them financial harm.

Toby McLaughlin, the owner of Foggy Cove Ventures, said he would have to pay an employee to sit on the ferry and not do anything. He said the rule would hurt his trucking business.

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