The province has issued the formal request for proposals (RFP) in search of a ferry operator to operate a service between Yarmouth and Maine.
The RFP was issued on Friday, Dec. 7. Interested bidders on a ferry service have until Jan. 24 to submit a proposal.
"I've heard from residents and business owners in southwest Nova Scotia that they want a stable ferry service in Yarmouth that will be there for the long term. And we do too," said Percy Paris, Minister of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism.
"We've taken the next step in our plan to find a qualified operator to establish a viable ferry service in Yarmouth by issuing a formal request for proposals."
The province used a draft request for proposals, released on Oct. 23, to consult with potential ferry operators. Companies were able to provide their input on the approach outlined in the draft.
"We heard from several ferry operators and considered what we heard to fine tune the request for proposals,” Paris says. “By getting input from potential bidders, it will put us in the best position possible to find a ferry operator able to run a commercially viable service between Yarmouth and the United States.
An expert panel had been asked by the province to review studies on ferry service between Yarmouth and the United States, and meet with interested people and groups to find conditions needed for a viable service.
In its report, released on Sept. 7, the panel said a cruise ferry service can be viable in the long term under the right circumstances.
The province says it is prepared to commit as much as $21 million over seven years to attract a long-term cruise ferry service if certain conditions are met.
To meet the conditions for the province's support package, the operator will need to present a plan that shows a ferry service will be profitable within seven years and reflects the winning conditions set out by the panel.
The request for proposals is available online at www.gov.ns.ca/tenders/tenders/ns-tenders.aspx .