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Howe Island to host town hall on ferry service

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Howe Island to host town hall on ferry service
WATCH: Howe Island residents are set to meet this weekend to discuss the ongoing issues facing ferry service -- including a lane reduction that sees on-deck vehicle lanes go from three to two – Nov 23, 2022

Residents of Howe Island near Kingston, Ont., are set to meet this weekend to discuss the ongoing issues facing ferry service, including a lane reduction that sees on-deck vehicle lanes go from three to two.

“The one expectation that is unanimously held on the island is that the ferry has to work,” says Gary Johnson, the board chair for the Howe Island Ratepayers Association.

Read more: Howe Island Ferry returns to service with reduced capacity

For island residents like Johnson, the ferry connection to the mainland is essential — for everything from attending appointments, getting to and from work, or connecting with friends and family.

However, following a complaint from a resident worried about emergency evacuation strategies on the ‘packed’ ferry, the usual three lanes of cars has been cut to two, meaning longer lines and waits to get across the water.

“A reduction of that magnitude, without any notice or without any really significant communication, is hard to take,” says Johnson.

In an update to island residents, the Director of Transportation Services for the County of Frontenac says that “while the vessel’s maximum weight capacity remains unchanged, on-deck vehicle lanes are reduced from three to two until further notice.”

“It was very shocking,” says Judy Greenwood-Speers, mayor of Frontenac Islands.

“Especially since the ferry has been in service for over 18 years, and suddenly, it’s not safe. They’ve been trying to make accommodations, and I think there will be a solution found.”

Johnson says island residents have submitted a petition to the Minister of Transportation through MP Mark Gerretsen, to restore the ferry’s capacity, which has garnered well over 500 signatures on two separate petitions.

“There’s no ill will, these are very patient people,” says Johnson.

“If you live on an island, you expect delays. You expect life to be inconvenient from time to time. But you don’t expect the kind of indifference that we’ve received. There is a feeling on the island that we’ve been abandoned by our provincial government.”

Read more: Howe Island residents say their ferry service needs immediate attention

The Howe Island Ratepayers Association will be sponsoring a town hall meeting to discuss the ongoing ferry service issues this Saturday.

They will be inviting members of all three branches of government and the MTO to attend — although the MTO has already said it will not be sending a representative.

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Frontenac Islands mayoral candidates talk about election issues

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