All is quiet at the Yarmouth ferry terminal. TINA COMEAU PHOTO
By Tina Comeau
The chair of the Nova Scotia International Ferry Partnership tells the Vanguard he is going to be meeting with provincial government officials early this week to discuss moving forward now that two ferry proposals have been received.
Keith Condon says part of the discussion will be aimed at having the ferry partnership involved in the evaluation of the two proposals that have been submitted.
“The second thing we’re going to do is update them on the progress we’ve made in the transition and rebuilding of the terminal,” said Condon. “We've taken that task on and have hired an industry professional to help us through that process.”
Asked if he is familiar with the two companies that submitted proposals in response to the province’s request-for-proposals process, Condon said the ferry partnership had researched Quest Navigational Inc. “But I don’t know the other company (Maritime Applied Physics Corporation) except for what you see on the Internet,” he said.
The provincial government says a month will be spent evaluating the proposals. Condon says he hopes the process does not preclude discussions with other companies that may be interested in being involved in a service but perhaps didn’t have time to submit a proposal during the RFP process – a timeframe he feels “the fuse was too short on.”
Asked if there are other companies interested in a ferry service that didn’t submit proposals, Condon says there are. He agrees, however, that there is a process to be followed and that this begins with evaluating the proposals submitted. He says the RFP is aimed at seeing if people, with their proposals, would qualify for the start-up funding that exists.
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“It was also a weeding process too to see who is out there and who is going to come forward because the bar was set fairly high to enter it, so obviously people are serious,” he said. “We shouldn’t second guess that these people may have very good proposals, we don’t know.”
When the RFP closed, some were surprised by company names that weren’t on the list. The Vanguard contacted one company that has been mentioned during ferry discussions in the past – British company P&O Ferries – to ask if it was connected with either of the proposals that have been submitted.
Said company spokesperson Brian Rees, “No, we're not connected to either of those companies. We've decided not to submit a proposal. It isn't that we don't see potential for the service, more that we need to focus on our core business on this side of the pond at the moment.”
P&O operates ferries from the United Kingdom to Ireland and in continental Europe.
The Vanguard also attempted to speak with Bay Ferries about the RFP but calls were not returned at the time of this posting.