HALIFAX – There’s still no word on a vessel or any specifics from the province or Bay Ferries Ltd. on the Yarmouth-to-Maine ferry service, even as tourism operators on both sides of the border begin to ask about the delay.
Earlier this week, PC MLA Chris d’Entremont said he had been hearing concerns from his constituents in Argyle-Barrington about the lack of information surrounding the service for the 2016 sailing season.
Transportation Minister Geoff MacLellan said on Thursday that he had no concrete updates on the service, that was awarded to a new provider in October, but said the new operator had still not secured a vessel.
MacLellan had no timeline for when Bay Ferries Ltd. could secure a vessel for the 2016 season, but said he was confident in its president, Mark Macdonald.
“He’s had very, very, good communications, open relationships with all stakeholders on both sides of the border from government officials to tourism operators,” MacLellan said.
“They’re marketing the service as it’s going to be there.”
When asked how the province could possibly market a service for a vessel which isn’t in place yet, the Minister said a number of operators on the US side have contacted him, but none of them made any requests on what vessel would be used — only if the service would be there in time for start of the season.
The process is moving along as it needs to, according to MacLellan, despite a prior government assurance the company would have a vessel in place by mid-December.
MacLellan said he was confident the delay to this point won’t affect the service later this year, despite past complaints from the previous operator about not having enough time to market a new vessel, which in turn they said affected passenger numbers.
He also said negotiations on how large a government subsidy Bay Ferries Ltd. will receive will not take place until a vessel is secured.
“We’re going to get in to that negotiation for the subsidy, but obviously a vessel is a key piece to that,” he said.
MacLellan said it’s not a budgetary factor at this point and once the parameters are set by the company, both sides will sit down to negotiate.