Update provided on back up ferry to Boblo Island

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An update on the Boblo Island's back up ferry has been provided. 

During Monday's Amherstburg meeting, council was presented with a report for information on the status of the back up ferry.

The main island ferry was out of service from Oct. 27 to Nov. 10 for what was being called 'routine maintenance', and during that time the back up ferry was also deemed unsafe by Transport Canada. 

Amico properties, which owns the Amherstburg Ferry Company and Boblo Island, is obligated and required to have ferry service available to Town of Amherstburg for administrative, emergency, police and fire services whenever required by the Town.

Generally this is provided by the main ferry, however the most recent version of the Emergency Response Plan states that if there is a situation where one ferry is removed from service, it should only take 10 minutes to have a second ferry operational. 

It was advised to the Town that while the second ferry couldn't be used for regular ferry service, Transport Canada confirmed it could be used for emergency services. 

Moving forward, the Town has asked for confirmation from Transport Canada that the second ferry can be used for emergency service in order to ensure that this access it available. This report was approved. 

While council did approve the report for information, a few residents did attend the meeting to express their frustration with how Amico dealt with the situation, and to even ask the Town to take over the ferry service. 

J. David Green, Boblo Island resident, says he doesn't believe that the back up ferry could've been used for emergency situations. 

"I'm a citizen of Amherstburg, and very proud of it, for the last four and a half years, I just happen to live on Boblo Island. We respect that we have inconveniences there, but we don't intend to go further without having emergency service availability. If your house started to burn, the fire truck was pulled off three days prior to this, and your house would burn to the ground."

Eric Farron, Boblo Island resident, says while the residents on Boblo are okay with paying the $5,000 annual fee to use the service, the Town needs to ensure that the agreement is being followed. 

"As a resident, as a citizen, I'm willing to pay and as are all my neighbours for service. No one is saying we shouldn't have to pay for it. But we need the support of council, arms unfolded, hands out of pockets."

Chris Gibb, Amherstburg deputy mayor, says council doesn't have any interest in taking over the ferry service to Boblo. 

"The development agreement that the Town and the developer have is very clear. The developer is responsible to the Town for providing municipal access for municipal services, and for providing access for emergency vehicles, EMS, police and fire."

The deputy mayor says the Town did all they could during the time of the service outage. 

"I guess the questions that were asked of the delegates was we've done what we can, what have you done to ensure you're getting the service you pay for? They were a little less proactive than the Town has been, but I think it's very important for them to advocate for themselves as well."

Gibb adds that the Town has asked the developer, Amico properties, for confirmation that both ferries are certified for use moving forward by Transport Canada. 

He says they are waiting to hear back with confirmation.