Yarmouth Town Council is contributing up to $50,000 over the next two years to support the Nova Scotia International Ferry Partnership, through the Yarmouth Area Industrial Commission, in its efforts to get a ferry service re-established in Yarmouth. The council met this morning, Nov. 29 in special session to approve the request for budget funding.
The bulk of the budget is needed to negotiate the transfer of ownership of the Yarmouth ferry terminal property from the federal government. The preliminary budget of $150,000 includes negotiating the transfer, re-establishing connections with Maine, and operator recruitment. The Yarmouth County’s three municipal units are being asked to cost-share equally.
Council considered recommendations flowing from a meeting of municipal councils and members of the ferry group that was held at the town hall on Friday, Nov. 9, one day after the new council was sworn into office.
The recommendations included:
1) Negotiate the transfer of the terminal property from the federal government to a municipal entity.
2) Appoint the Nova Scotia International Ferry Partnership, acting under the jurisdiction of the Yarmouth Area Industrial Commission, as the body that will negotiate the transfer with Transport Canada.
3) Hire an expert in terminal transfers to advise on the negotiations.
The council, as committee of the whole, met in closed session on Thursday, Nov. 22 to discuss the funding request, which was contained in briefing notes prepared by the ferry group. In those notes, the ferry terminal property was described as a “game stopper.”
“The current terminal and loading facilities are not suitable and must be reconstructed.” That was a conclusion of the ferry partnership’s brief.
In a Nov. 15 memo to council CAO Jeff Gushue notes, “I think there is universal agreement that the terminal replacement, (including ship-dock interface), has to be fast-tracked in order to meet even a 2014 start-up.”
In approving the decision council said it was contingent on a detailed budget being provided. All the disbursals will be reviewed by the council’s CAOs and will be funded over two years.
Argyle has approved the request in principle and last evening the Municipality of Yarmouth approved the plan at its meeting.