CARIBOU – Docking three boats wide at the Caribou wharf will soon become a thing of the past.
Thanks to a federal funding announcement by Central Nova MP Peter MacKay Wednesday, plans can get underway to expand the wharf that is home to more than 45 full-time vessels.
MacKay announced $3.5 million in funding this year for improvements to small craft harbours in his area, including a completion of wharf repairs and the start of a multiyear breakwater wharf at Caribou.
"It's been a long time coming and we are really pleased to see this work get underway and I am told as soon as the herring is in, the work begins," said MacKay. "That work is ready to go."
Other areas benefiting from the funding include the reconstruction of the east breakwater in Cribbons Point, over the next two years; completion of wharf repairs and construction of a new service area in Eastern Passage, construction of two service areas and launching ramp, installation of floating wharves and dredging in Point Bickerton East and reconstruction of the west wharf at Sonora over two years.
Overall $106 million is being invested by the federal government in support of major repairs, reconstruction and dredging projects at 125 small craft harbours across Canada this year.
John Lakenman, manager of the Caribou Harbour Authority, said the new breakwater will make the wharf safer for small craft boats and allow the wharf to accommodate more boats.
"It's the extension of the breakwater that will shelter the harbour better and make more room because we will get floating docks on the breakwater," he said. "Two boats wide is OK, but when you get three boats wide, it gets crowded and if you get something that happens to the boat in the middle, we are in trouble fire-wise, accident-wise."
He said more boaters want to use Caribou, but don't because of the overcrowdedness. Currently, there are 45 vessels in Caribou in addition to 40 commercial transit vessels, eight recreational boats and the Pictou Island ferry.
"When lobster season is on it’s three wide and when herring season is on it will be 60 boats," he said. "More boats would come if they could dock more easily. It's a little bit more crowded. There are people who want to stay here but don't because it's too crowded."
In addition to the funding for small craft harbours, MacKay also assured people that the Caribou, N.S., to Wood Islands, P.E.I., ferry service would continue to be funded until 2016.
This investment will total $58 million over the next two years to support ferry operations in Caribou and Wood Islands, Digby and St. John, N.B., and Iles de la Madelaine, Que., and Souris, P.E.I.
"I can tell you as I began my remarks, as a member of parliament and a resident growing up here, I have seen the crucial impact the ferry service has on our region. The overall economy benefits greatly," he said.
He said since his party formed government in 2006, it has invested $100 million in the Caribou-Wood Islands ferry service and that was from a larger pool of almost $250 million from eastern ferry service funding.
Investments on the local ferry service include replacements of the main engines on both the Holiday Island, rehabilitation of the breakwater, berths for the Holiday Island and Confederation in both Wood Islands and Caribou.