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Letter: People deserve a reliable ferry service

['The Bell Island ferry M/V Beaumont Hamel sits docked at the ferry wharf in Portugal Cove recently. <br />— Telegram file photo']
The Bell Island ferry M/V Beaumont Hamel docked at the wharf in Portugal Cove. — Telegram file photo

So, the government spends $100 million on two boats for Fogo Island. Then, more millions to retrofit docks in the cove and on the Bell Island beach for whatever boat is not in use.

Now, I would have figured if the two posh boats were for Fogo, they would just have them operating in Fogo right? But no, the crap would hit the fan then, wouldn’t it! So they say they are going to provide Bell Island with a lap-of-luxury ferry service that they can enjoy, while Fogo has no need for it. How nice of ’em, right?

I really don’t recall folks on the island saying they wanted a fancy-pantsy boat, with luxury lounges and all that crap. Hell, most just want to sit in their car and relax for 20 minutes till they get to the other side. Am I right? Have a place to sit your butt down if you are a walk-on, and a bathroom that works in case you got business to do. Oh, the islanders did ask that boat/boats be reliable. Reliable meaning that they could actually run at least two weeks without shutting down for some stupid reason or other. You wouldn’t think that would be too much to ask for. Right or wrong — I ask you?

Then the government finds out that the $100-million lemons that they purchased for Fogo are going to cost millions more when they have to duct-tape the boats up. They are forced to take one boat completely out of service. How long did you have it, Bell island? A month? OK, close enough.

It can’t be cheap housing $50-million worth of steel in the harbour. Sitting there and doing nothing but rust. It’s not bringing in any revenue at all, which is lost dollars added to the ever-growing bill while waiting for some part or other. If it were a cow, sure, it would be meat on somebody’s table right now. If it can’t bring in the doe, it gotta go, right?

So, back on Bell Island, they have two boats. Two boats! You would think they got it made, sure. They are pretty enough for the islanders: a deck to hold the vehicles, equipped with a lounge if one wishes to use it and, yes, a bathroom. Now, the bathrooms and lounge may not be all that grand, but hey, who needs grand? Just get folks off and on the island so they can work. So employers will hire them. So they can pay taxes. So they can bring the revenue in for the service and do their part to justify the service.

If both boats ran on a consistent basis, the islanders and the government would have it made.

Heck no! With the boats breaking down, you can’t even count on a run two days straight at this point. With the crew struggling to meet the demands of the islanders, and also to get their fair working conditions, these boats are sitting still in the water more often than not. Bell Islanders cannot get to their jobs. Some may be fired for lack of reliability. Many are never even hired for the same reason. Unemployment rises on the island. Social assistance rises on the island. Not even going to get into how the government provided millions of dollars to help tourism, etc., yet no reliable ferry service to get tourists there and home again.

Now that’s just a web of financial burden on the government’s pocketbook. You would agree, right?

But whose fault is that?

The government likes to blame it on the islanders. I don’t think one has to be a rocket scientist to say they are wrong!

Jacqueline Young
Kitchener, Ont.
Originally from Bell Island

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