Yarmouth-Bar Harbor ferry makes final voyage

The final sailing of the high-speed ferry between Yarmouth, N.S., and Bar Harbor, Maine, left Saturday morning.

The final sailing of the high-speed ferry between Yarmouth, N.S., and Bar Harbor, Maine, left Saturday morning, ending a service that lasted more than a decade.

The CAT sailed out of Yarmouth harbour for its final voyage and now people in the community are looking for new ferry options.

West Nova Conservative MP Greg Kerr, who represents the riding that includes Yarmouth, said managers of the Yarmouth Port are interested in bringing in a single-hulled ship to replace the high-speed catamaran ferry.

"The CAT did not have the capacity to generate revenue on board. These sort of what they call 'mini-liners' … have all kinds of activities on board that generate and that's what … makes them sustainable," Kerr said.

Kerr said officials hope a replacement for the CAT can be in place next summer.

Last December, the Nova Scotia government refused to continue subsidies to keep the high-speed service going.

When Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter visited Yarmouth early in April, he was booed by people in the community who were upset about the decision to withdraw the ferry's financing.

Local businesses and tourist operators say the loss will cripple the Yarmouth economy.

The federal MP said says it's unlikely a replacement ferry will be secured for this summer's tourism season.

But Kerr said port officials are already working on options to reconnect Maine and Nova Scotia in 2011.

"With the Bay Ferry craft, the CAT out of here, it's [time] to look at the long-term use of the terminal," Kerr said.

"Although it's owned by Transport Canada and therefore federal [responsibility], it's actually leased to Bay Ferries. So part of it was clearing all of this up as to make sure as best we can so that the local commission right here in the Yarmouth area is in charge of that so they can do the negotiations."

Kerr said the federal government is willing to help but it's not promising any funding.

Bay Ferries Ltd. wanted at least $6 million from the government in 2010 to keep the CAT ferry running between Yarmouth and the Maine cities of Bar Harbor and Portland.

The ferry between Yarmouth and Maine began in 1997. The Nova Scotia government has given $18.9 million to the ferry service since the fall of 2007.