Photo: Jacques Boissinot Archives The canadian Press
The minister of Transport, François Bonnardel
The displacement of the Holiday season will be more complicated for the residents of the Côte-Nord and Bas-Saint-Laurent due to a breach which prevents the ferry NM F.-A.-Gauthier to make the links Matane-Baie-Comeau-Godbout. No ship was available to take over until the 8th of January ; even the federal government had no ferry.
The intervention of the government of Quebec has allowed for the addition of air links between the airports in Mont Joli and Baie-Comeau, and this, with four departures per day in each direction.
At a press conference Friday morning in Montreal, the minister of Transport, François Bonnardel said that the flights will be aboard aircraft Dash-8 of about 50 seats. Other routes should be added to Saturday between Sept-Îles and Matane at the request of the mayor of Sept-Îles, according to what was stated by the minister.
Mr. Bonnardel has recognized, however, that this is not ideal for the hundreds of families who had to move with their vehicle filled with luggage and gifts for the Holiday season.
These measures were necessary in this period of large-scale movements, especially as the trip is about 400 km by going up to the ferry between Saint-Siméon and Rivière-du-Loup. Only by land, the detour is of 820 km through Québec to be able to move from one bank to the other.
For its part, the Société des traversiers du Québec (STQ) will add additional departures to the traverse Rivière-du-Loup–Saint-Siméon on 23, 26 and 30 December 2018, as well as January 2, 2019 thanks to the collaboration of a private partner.
However, François Bonnardel did not hide his irritation in the face of the STQ, which had no plan B to deal with such a situation. The minister has said, find it unacceptable that the network of the Société des traversiers du Québec has no vessel available to replace a ferry that breaks. Mr. Bonnardel has pointed out that the STQ would have been able to buy a boat used during the past year, but has not done so. He rejected the blame on the previous liberal government for this decision.
He has indicated that he will take care of this folder in 2019.
The NM F.-A.-Gauthier, which connects Matane-Baie-Comeau-Godbout, however, is a ship recent. It was put into service in the summer of 2015. According to the minister Bonnardel, it is a unique boat of its kind which explains the difficulty to find spare parts quickly.