By Tina Comeau
The province is aiming to issue a formal request for proposals (RFP) by the end of this week for a ferry service between Yarmouth and Maine.
Percy Paris, the Minister of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism, told the Vanguard on Friday, Nov. 30, that this is the government’s intention.
A briefing was held in Halifax on Nov. 20 with potential ferry proponents to get feedback on an RFP draft. The input gathered has been used to finalize the request that will go out for potential bidders for the service.
“There were three potential bidders in attendance,” said Paris, who said the province also fielded interest from other potential bidders that could not attend the session.
The province has said it is prepared to commit up to $21 million over seven years towards a long-term ferry service that is run by a qualified operator.
In the Legislature last week, Yarmouth MLA Zach Churchill said the NDP government has mishandled the ferry issue from the start.
“What we have had here is three years of negative impacts to this provincial economy because of this decision and finally, in an election year, the premier is trying to make things right with it,” said Churchill. “All that was needed this whole time was for the premier to say, we made a mistake . . . Instead, he still tries to spin this and say that everything is different now, now we'll put $21 million into a ferry service.” But Churchill said nothing has changed over the importance of the service from 2009 to 2012.