P.E.I. officials are working toward opening the ferry service between the Island and Nova Scotia ahead of schedule.
The ferry between Wood Islands, P.E.I., and Caribou, N.S., usually starts May 1, but because of the pandemic a new target date was set for June 1.
P.E.I. Premier Dennis King said his government is in talks with Nova Scotia about getting the Northumberland Ferries service started sooner.
P.E.I. has offered to supply COVID-19 enforcement officers on both ends of the route — at Wood Islands and in Caribou.
“We believe we can have safe operation of essential traffic on Northumberland Ferries sooner than June first and if the only issue was that Nova Scotia didn’t have the resources to do proper screening, that we would help provide that service from P.E.I. in Caribou,” King said.
“We remain very, very hopeful that we can open that ferry service much sooner June first.”
Businesses in the eastern end of the Island said they’d be relieved to see an earlier opening.
“There was a call to close it for the year, which was not acceptable to us,” said Russell Compton, president of the Eastern P.E.I. Chamber of Commerce.
“That’s also a link of our emergency preparedness and, God forbid, if anything would happen at an airport or bridge, an accident that closed either, that gives us another link to the outside and that is key to our emergency preparedness on P.E.I.”
The ferry service offers trucking companies in eastern P.E.I. a shorter and less expensive route than travelling via the Confederation Bridge.
“It doesn’t make any difference to the public health of P.E.I. because those truckers have to come and go anyway. There is no way around that,” Compton said.
“They may as well be using the ferry and saving a whole bunch of driving and hours and stuff like that.”
King said he has had discussions with Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil about opening the provincial link back up.
“I do feel we have the ability to do the screening that we have done and to do it adequately. We know that there’s limited movement of travel down there but it is essential and it is important.”
The MV Confederation was already docked at the Wood Islands ferry terminal on Thursday.
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