Nova Scotia to Maine ferry service: Where do the political parties stand?


Published on May 11, 2017

The Cat ferry overnighting in Yarmouth awaiting a morning sail to Portland, Maine.

©Tina Comeau

YARMOUTH, N.S. – So where do the political parties stand when it come to the ferry service that sails between Yarmouth, Nova Scotia and Portland, Maine?

We asked the three main political parties this question. Here are their responses, listed in alphabetical order acccording to the party. We also asked the Tourism Industry Association Of Nova Scotia (TIANS) to weigh in on the ferry as well.

1. Do you support a long-term ferry service between Nova Scotia and Maine?

Aug. 3 crossing on The Cat from Maine to Nova Scotia. This is in the Forchu Lounge.
TINA COMEAU PHOTO

Yes, we believe a ferry service between Nova Scotia and Maine is vitally important to the economy of South Western Nova Scotia and to the province’s tourism sector.

2. Would your government, if elected, continue to offer financial support to a ferry service?

Cars driving onto The Cat.
Tina Comeau

Yes, we are committed to this ferry. We want to work with the provider to ensure the required subsidy declines; however, we are committed to maintaining this important link.

3. If you have concerns with the current ferry service, what would you be looking to change?

Cat ferry docks in Yarmouth.
TINA COMEAU PHOTO

We have always said we want to the subsidy to decline. The second year subsidy to Bay Ferries was less than the first year’s subsidy and that is progress. As the ferry becomes more successful, the required subsidy decreases. Our government has worked actively with the operator to ensure we build on 2016's successful season and make this season hit new heights.

4. What do you feel is needed to ensure this is a sustainable service?

We need to be united and support this important service. The opposition has unnecessarily played political games with the ferry and that has made it harder for the ferry to get passengers. Even with the opposition’s negativity, we still had a successful season for the ferry and saw the best tourism season in our province’s history.

Gift shop on The Cat.
TINA COMEAU PHOTO

5. What do you see as a benefit to having a ferry service in place? The ferry service ensures more businesses operate around the province and more Nova Scotians are working. Last year, we had the best tourism season in the province’s history and we know the southern part of the province played a role in that.

Says Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil: “The return of the ferry has made Southwestern Nova Scotia stronger by supporting tourism and the jobs that come with it. Now, younger Nova Scotians are building lives for themselves right here in Nova Scotia, with their families beside them."

 

1. Do you support a long-term ferry service between Nova Scotia and Maine?

Yes.

2.Would your government, if elected, continue to offer financial support to a ferry service?

Aug. 3 crossing on The Cat from Maine to Nova Scotia. This is in the Forchu Lounge.
TINA COMEAU PHOTO

We believe the Government of Nova Scotia and the Government of Canada should partner to fund this international transportation link.

3. If you have concerns with the current ferry service, what would you be looking to change?

Vehicles arrive at the ferry terminal in Yarmouth to board The Cat ferry.
TINA COMEAU PHOTO

We are concerned that the federal government contributes financially to many other ferry services in Atlantic Canada, but will not partner with the Government of Nova Scotia to help support this international transportation link. We are also concerned that the current ferry service does not allow commercial trucks, which means the service lacks the capacity to help get our goods to market in the United States. We are concerned about the open-ended nature of the deal that requires the Province to cover any financial shortcomings that Bay Ferries may have at the end of the operating season.

4. What do you feel is needed to ensure this is a sustainable service?

We believe partnering with the federal government would help make this service sustainable.

5. What do you see as a benefit to having a ferry service in place?

The passengers using the ferry service spend their dollars at local businesses from one end of the province to the other and provide a significant positive impact on the local economy in the Southwest region during the operating season.

 

1. Do you support a long-term ferry service between Nova Scotia and Maine?

Yes.

2. Would your government, if elected, continue to offer financial support to a ferry service?

Yes, we would continue financial support with the ferry service after negotiating a new sustainable contract that makes more financial sense.

3. If you have concerns with the current ferry service, what would you be looking to change?

Terminal facilities in Portland, Maine.

There are a number of concerns. Including: a) It's inability to transport trucks b) the Port of connection (Maine) dictating the terms and conditions c) the kind of vessel. A PC government would ensure that the contract benefits Nova Scotians.

4. What do you feel is needed to ensure this is a sustainable service?

Sip@Sea offers passengers three different options for food services onboard.

TINA COMEAU PHOTO

Follow the expert panels' recommendations. For the ferry service to be sustainable for the people of Yarmouth, we must negotiate a new contract. If the current operator does not negotiate a new fair deal for both parties, we will find another operator.

5. What do you see as a benefit to having a ferry service in place?

Cat passengers making the crossing from Yarmouth to Portland on Aug. 3.

We see the ferry service as an economic driver for not only Yarmouth, but all of Nova Scotia. The full potential of the ferry service has not been reached and with a new deal it could become an essential transportation link and tourism driver between Nova Scotia and the United States.

Vehicles are loaded onto the Cat ferry for a crossing to Portland, Maine.
Tina Comeau

Says PC Leader Jamie Baillie: "The ferry service is important for tourism and economic development across Nova Scotia. We are prepared to make strategic investments in the Yarmouth ferry that are the result of smart negotiations. This will be our approach to secure a more a sustainable deal for the ferry service in Yarmouth."

 

Cat ferry in Yarmouth harbour.
TINA COMEAU PHOTO

From the tourism perpsective we asked TIANS for its views on the ferry service. Here's what they shared.

TIANS: ‘Crucial’ to support ferry link with U.S.'

Travelling on The Cat.

"If we are to double tourism revenues to $4 billion by 2024, support for existing investments, such as the international ferry link is crucial.  We believe the international link has the potential to significantly increase traffic from the United States into Nova Scotia and we are starting to see the results as confidence builds in the service, says Darlene Grant Fiander, president of the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia.

Some of the travel information onboard The Cat.

“Now that we have stability of the service and an exceptional operator, we have the opportunity to recapture market share from the United States," she added.  "TIANS is hearing positive impact stories from operators and suppliers all over the province and we expect this will continue in the years to come.  The service needs to be viewed in the context of important infrastructure that provides direct access for Nova Scotia into the lucrative U.S. market.  Good access into Nova Scotia will be a key determinant in the tourism industry's future success and we are extremely excited and confident that the international link will dramatically increase export dollars into Nova Scotia."

 

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