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Revised ferry hours spark a flurry of discussions
'We didn't ask for a break,' says mayor

April Hudson
Northern News Services
Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Department of Transportation has scuttled plans to change ferry hours at the MV Lafferty after an initial announcement of a regular two-hour midday break in service made waves.

NNSL photo/graphic

Jackson Christie of Inuvik looks for an opening during boys basketball action at the Western Canada Summer Games in Fort McMurray, Alta., on Aug. 8. - photo courtesy of Rob Hart

The department originally announced on Aug. 17 it would be changing the ferry's schedule to start at 6 a.m. and run until midnight, but with a two-hour break from 2 to 4 p.m.

That announcement followed a petition from the Chamber of Commerce to extend operating hours.

That petition circulated at the village office and the Nahanni Inn for more than a month and was signed by 333 people.

On July 27, Menicoche took the petition to Transportation Minister Tom Beaulieu, along with letters from the village, himself and Liidlii Kue First Nation supporting a change to the ferry's hours.

However, after a backlash from the Chamber of Commerce and community representatives regarding the afternoon break, Dan Quevillon, the department's regional superintendent in the Deh Cho region, said on Aug. 19 proposed changes were being halted.

Quevillon said one of the issues with extended hours is they would contravene Canadian labour standards for shift workers.

"Ferry employees cannot work more than 60 hours per shift schedule. Even if (the ferry) started at 7 a.m. and finished at midnight, we couldn't do that because that would put them over," he said.

"They work long hours. The only way we can do that is by taking two hours from somewhere else (in the day) and putting that in the morning."

Now that the DoT has halted changes, Quevillon said a conversation will take place at the departmental level to decide next steps.

After the department initially announced changes, the Chamber of Commerce met with Menicoche to discuss their concerns and village Coun. Tom Wilson aired his own concerns during the Aug. 17 regular meeting of council.

Community consultation

He said at the time he would like to see consultation with the community if a midday break was required.

"For them to arbitrarily say (the ferry) will run from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. and then shut down for two hours ... without really any consultation with the community - nobody envisioned this happening," Wilson said at the time.

Mayor Sean Whelly agreed, suggesting the village write a letter to the DoT asking for a consultation with the community before the new hours are implemented.

"It seems to me we're missing a step here," he said. "We didn't ask for the break from 2 to 4 p.m."

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