© TINA COMEAU/FILE PHOTO
The trucking industry says it needs to know that a ferry saiing between Yarmouth and Portland in 2016 and beyond will be able to accommodate them.
YARMOUTH – The ongoing delay in hearing what vessel will service the ferry route between Yarmouth and Portland isn’t just causing anxiety in the tourism industry, says Argyle-Barrington MLA Chris d’Entremont. He says it is also creating anxiety in the trucking industry.
D'Entremont is calling on the Liberal government to tell Nova Scotians exactly what type of boat is being considered for the Nova Scotia-to-Maine run and if it will be able to accommodate tractor trailers and trucks.
"It's a simple question, but it has huge consequences," he says.
When the province announced in late October that it had selected Bay Ferries as the preferred candidate to operate the route, the government said the company had 45 days to identify a ship. That timeframe elapsed without a ship being secured. In an interview on Jan. 7, Bay Ferries vice-president of operations Don Cormier told the Vanguard newspaper that the company was working diligently to find a ship. But he also said the ship market “is challenging.”
But challenging, says the trucking industry, will be a boat that can’t accommodate them.
In a media release issued by the PC caucus, Brian Reynolds, owner of B. Reynolds Trucking in Port Latour, Shelburne County, says the trucking industry can't keep waiting.
"We want some idea of where we stand this summer," he says.
Reynolds’ company had used the Nova Star service during the past two sailing seasons. He says the industry will face problems if trucks can’t use the international run.
The trucking industry recently raised concerns about ferry service out of Digby where the Fundy Rose, which replaced the Princess of Acadia, doesn’t have the same capacity for tractor trailers as its predecessor did. Truckers were being faced with waiting lists or having to make to long drive to market – causing delays, added expenses and more wear and tear on their vehicles. After meeting with the trucking and seafood industries, Bay Ferries adjusted its schedule for January to add second crossings several times a week.
Reynolds says the industry needs answers now on whether they’ll be able to use the Yarmouth-to-Portland service.
"We are at serious risk of being choked off and we cannot afford for that to happen," he says. "We need to make sure we don't get the short end of the stick."
D'Entremont says while the ferry service is important to tourism, it is also important to other economic sectors.
"The commercial trucking industry is very important to the economy of southwest Nova Scotia," he says. "Imagine a fishing industry without a means to get their product to the US market in a timely manner. Finding out at the last minute could be a catastrophe. This is worrisome."
A spokesperson for the Department and Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal wasn’t able to offer much when contacted on Jan. 21.
“There is no new update on the Yarmouth ferry at this time,” said Brian Taylor. “Bay Ferries continues to finalize their operations and we will be updating everyone once they are in place.”