The Sound of Islay ferry has departed from the community of South East Bight and is destined for Green Bay after local RCMP officers were able to convince residents to end their protest.
Residents chained the vessel to the dock Monday night to protest the provincial government’s decision to send the swing vessel to Green Bay, where it will relieve the Hazel McIsaac. That vessel is scheduled to undergo its annual refit.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Transportation and Works said the Sound of Islay departed around 1:30 p.m. today, 30 minutes after officers first arrived on the scene. She said the protest ended without confrontation.
The department said helicopter service to and from the island will begin Thursday morning, weather permitting.
The province has signed a contract with Norcon Marine Services to use its vessel Joseph M. for the run between Petit Forte and South East Bight on the Burin Peninsula. However, that vessel is undergoing work in Clarenville and is not expected to be ready until sometime in February.
The South East Bight and Rencontre East runs are set to share the provincial vessel Northern Seal and a helicopter until the Joseph M. is ready for service.
Residents in South East Bight are concerned the helicopter will not be able to make all of the necessary trips in winter weather conditions.