The Cape Breton Regional Municipality is floating the possibility of a passenger ferry service from downtown Sydney, across the harbour to Westmount.
The idea for a ferry service came from the Cape Breton Regional Municipality's active transportation committee, which is looking for ways to get people to travel around the municipality without using motorized vehicles.
The committee wanted to see people walk or bike to get around, prompting the municipality to hire Stantec Consulting Ltd. to do a feasibility study.
John Heseltine, a senior planner with Stantec Consulting Ltd., called the idea "attractive."
"We'd like to see if it's possible to do this but we certainly know that our mandate is to establish whether it can be done without a subsidy from the municipality," he said.
Heseltine said the community seems to like the idea of a passenger ferry and he believes there's a reasonable domestic market on the Westmount side and downtown Sydney, in relation to the proposed route for the ferry.
"We've gotten a response from potential hosts to the ferry on either side, which is very important in terms of the likely cost of providing the service," he said.
Rod MacArthur, a Westmount resident, is one of about 40 people who met with Stantec Consulting Ltd. on Thursday in a focus group to discuss the idea of a ferry.
"I think it's a fantastic idea. It would be good for the community," he said.
"People who would like to come across the harbour to do their shopping and their banking and whatever, think they would use it."
Rod Beresford, who also lives in Westmount, said people would use the ferry but he's concerned about parking for those taking the boat and the logistics of running the service.
"I don't think there's enough questions answered yet and there's a lot more information they have to find," he said.
"How many users they'd have, how much is this going to cost? That's always a big concern."
Stantec Consulting Ltd. will send a draft report to the Cape Breton Regional Municipality at the end of the month. The report is expected to include the cost of setting up and operating the ferry, along with estimates of how many people will use the service.
The 12-person ferry would run on a seasonable schedule from June to October.
The report will go to Cape Breton Regional Municipality staff and regional council for further study, then the report will be released to the community for further feedback.