Nova Scotia

Planning commences for new commuter ferry between Bedford and Halifax

All three levels of government are pitching in to plan for a new ferry and terminal building in Bedford, N.S.

All 3 levels of government are pitching in to plan for new ferry and terminal building

The ferry would become a new transit route operated by Halifax Transit. (Robert Short/CBC)

Plans are underway to launch a new ferry transit route between Bedford and downtown Halifax.

Under sunny skies and overlooking the waters of the Bedford Basin at DeWolfe Park in Bedford, representatives of all three levels of government announced Thursday morning they are partnering on a study of a new commuter ferry and ferry terminal in Bedford.

The federal government is contributing more than $1.3 million for the study, the province is providing $1.1 million and the municipality is pitching in $917,000.

"The Mill Cove ferry route will connect communities across Halifax in ways that we've been dreaming about for years," said Halifax MP Andy Fillmore.

The study will explore options for an electric ferry, which would not use fossil fuel and would become the province's first zero-emission ferry.

The ferry would run between Mill Cove in Bedford and the ferry terminal in downtown Halifax. (Pam Berman/CBC)

Deputy Premier Kelly Regan said transportation is Nova Scotia's second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, so transitioning away from diesel ferries will reduce emissions and help the province meet its 2030 emission targets. 

"A new ferry will provide another way for people to get around the Halifax area in a fast, comfortable and sustainable way," said Regan, who represents the provincial riding of Bedford.

Mayor Mike Savage said the new ferry will also reduce traffic congestion on the Bedford Highway.

"This ferry service will allow more people to make the choice to park their car. I believe it will enhance the interest in working and socializing downtown."

The new ferry terminal building would be designed as a net-zero, energy efficient building, the province said.

The ferry would depart from Mill Cove in Bedford and dock at the downtown ferry terminal in Halifax. (CBC)

Tim Outhit, the councillor for Bedford, sees the development as just the start of a new network of ferry routes.

"Shortly afterwards, there'll be another at Larry Uteck and one at Shannon Park when it's developed. This really is the tip of the iceberg of something really transformational." 

Dave Reage, the director of Halifax Transit, said the design work should be done by this fall. 

A report with the conceptual design of the new Bedford terminal and a retrofit design of the existing Halifax terminal is expected early in 2022.

Transit officials hope to have the new ferry up and running out of Mill Cove by 2024.

With files from Pam Berman