A view of the ferry terminal in Yarmouth. TINA COMEAU PHOTO
The Nova Scotia International Ferry Partnership (NSIFP) met last week with the panel appointed by Premier Darrell Dexter to review the potential for a ferry service between the Province of Nova Scotia and State of Maine.
The panel, which was appointed by the province in April, is expected to have its report completed by mid-July. The report will be made public.
The NSIFP presented a lengthy document to the panel and made a presentation based on that document.
The panel appointed by the province met with elected and business representatives in Shelburne, Digby, Yarmouth and with the authors of several economic studies in Halifax.
Part of the presentation by the ferry partnership included testimonials and business impact surveys that the NSIFP has been gathering on its website, www.nsusaferry.com. People and businesses are still being invited to provide a testimonial or fill out the survey.
The testimonials and business impact surveys, says the NSIFP, were extremely important as they added credence to its economic research by putting a human face on cold statistics. Furthermore, the ferry partnership learned that there were other issues that had not been adequately covered by the economic analysis. Principle among these was the loss of access by USA residents to our real estate market and the resulting devaluation of private and commercial properties.
Four principles were part of the foundation for the Nova Scotia International Ferry Partnership’s presentation to the panel. This included:
• Re-instatement of ferry service is the best way to energize the regional economy.
• Downside risk of public investment is low.
• The loss of capacity (termination of Scotia Prince) and loss of associated marketing campaign is under stated.
• The economic impact of the ferry service is greater than economic reports.
Keith Condon and Neil LeBlanc, chairs of the ferry partnership group, are thanking Premier Darrell Dexter for appointing the panel, as the process has given many who depend on the ferry service for their livelihood the opportunity to tell their story.
“We are hopeful that their report will reflect positively on the benefits of re-instating the ferry service,” say Keith Condon and Neil LeBlanc, chairs of the ferry partnership group, in a media release.
The Expert Review Panel on a Yarmouth-U.S. Ferry Service is to provide the provincial government and citizens of Nova Scotia with a report that addresses the following questions.
•What are the key factors that would determine the long-term economic viability of a ferry service between Yarmouth and the United States?
•What type of ferry service, if re-established, would be most appropriate?
•What annual number of net new visitors to Nova Scotia, within an estimated range, would likely be attracted if a ferry service between Yarmouth and the U.S. were re-established?
•If a Yarmouth-U.S. ferry service were re-established, what would be the likely impact on the existing service between Digby and Saint John?
•Across a range of reasonable assumptions as to future trends in the key factors affecting the viability of a Yarmouth-U.S. ferry service, what amounts of initial and on-going government support would likely be needed to secure a commercial operator?
The report will also include a thorough peer review and critique of the several existing studies in respect of ferry service between Yarmouth and the U.S. and between Digby and Saint John; consultations with key business and community leaders in Yarmouth and Digby; and any other existing and relevant information that is readily accessible by the panel, including, in particular, data and informed judgment as to projected tourism and other traffic that might use the ferry services.