Service crew

Howe Island residents brace for ferry service disruption

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HOWE ISLAND — The association representing residents of Howe Island is calling for more investment in the province-owned ferry that connects the island to the mainland.

The Howe Island ferry must be out of service for 12 days between September 19 and 30 in order to undergo a mandatory Transport Canada inspection every four years.

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In its place, the Quinte Loyalist ferry is to be transferred from Glenora to take its place for eight hours a day, and the three-vehicle ferry owned by the Frontenac Islands Township is also to continue operations.

But the head of the Howe Island Ratepayers Association said he would like to see the replacement ferry – although larger and faster than the Howe Island ferry – run longer than the scheduled 7am at 3 p.m. each day.

“The ferry they are replacing was a 24/7 service so what they do is they decided that from 7am to 3pm apparently Igo be the eight-hour period,” association president Gary Johnson said.

“Obviously people who have to get to work before 7 a.m. in Kingston or elsewhere, that puts them in a difficult situation because they can’t board until 7 a.m., and people who come home from work at 3 p.m.Afterwards, they will have tor use the smaller ferry.

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The Department of Transport ferry crew work 12-hour shifts, but as the replacement ferry operates from pictoncrew travel times are included in their shifts.

“As there is a two-hour drive between Picton and the Howe ferry, it will only be able to operate eight hours a day,” said Frontenac Islands Mayor Denis Doyle.

Doyle acknowledged the inconvenience islanders are likely to face during the 12 days away from the ferry, but he said the crew shortage means there are no options.

“During these difficult times, as in many other industries, and not just the health care sector that we hear so much about, MTO is struggling to hire enough qualified staff to operate its ferries,” Doyle added. “As a result, MTO is unable to provide personnel to operate the loan vessel Glenora for more than eight hours per day.

Johnson said island residents would find ways to cope with the reduced service, such as parking on the mainland and walking on the ferry when leaving the island.

Ferry service has recently been a source of frustration for island residents, with some complaining about deteriorating service.

IN 2019, the ferry was taken out of service for 12 hours with less than a day’s notice, leaving many islanders stranded on the mainland for hours.

Johnson said the ferry’s drive system, identified years ago as needing replacement, has not been replaced.