Meeting with transportation minister ‘promising,’ says Loyalist Township

The Amherst Islander II, which is now years delayed in entering service. Photo via Loyalist Township website.

Representatives from Loyalist Township met with the minister of transportation to discuss “an agreeable path towards commissioning of the Amherst Islander II” at the Rural Ontario Municipalities Association (ROMA) Conference that took place in Toronto earlier this week.

As the Township indicated in advance of the conference, which took place from Sunday, Jan. 21 to Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, that a meeting had been arranged with the Honorable Prabmeet Sarkaria, Minister of Transportation for Ontario, to discuss the long-delayed start-of-service for the new electric ferry, which arrived in Ontario in 2021 and has been moored a vast majority of the time since. According to an update from the Township, published on Friday, Jan. 26, 2023, a delegate of the Township met with Sarkaria on the last day of the ROMA Conference.

“The discussions were encouraging and productive, focusing on how the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) and the Township can work in partnership to proactively bring the Amherst Islander II into service,” the Township said.

“Township and MTO representatives identified and agreed on the need to hire Helm Management Services (Helm) to provide project management resources to assist in commissioning of the Amherst Islander II. MTO has pledged funding to secure Helm’s services on an immediate basis. Helm has significant experience in the marine sector and has a broad understanding of the operational challenges that must be resolved in order to commission the Amherst Islander II.”

Further, the Township and the MTO “agreed to continue to work collaboratively in the pursuit of a deferral of the dry dock maintenance planned for the Frontenac II,” which would ensure uninterrupted ferry service for Amherst Island until the Amherst Islander II is in service. The dry dock maintenance for the ferry had been planned for the first week of April 2024.

“I want to thank Minister Sarkaria and the Province for responding to the recommendations brought forth by the Township, and for recognizing the hard work and professionalism of our staff in operating the Amherst Island ferry service. Together we are committed to providing safe, reliable, and sustainable service to our residents. Loyalist is confident that the actions agreed upon at ROMA conference will help to ensure a clear path forward toward commissioning the Amherst Islander II,” Loyalist Township Deputy Mayor Nathan Townend said in a statement.

The Township said it and the MTO are “steadfast in commitment to providing reliable ferry service to Amherst Island residents and visitors.”

“The actions agreed upon during the ROMA conference demonstrate the shared commitment to bringing the Amherst Islander II in to service as soon as possible,” the update from the Township concludes.

Kingstonist will follow up with the Township and Deputy Mayor Townend in the coming days for further details.

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