Nova Scotia

After trip to D.C., minister says Yarmouth ferry could sail this month

The province's transportation minister is hopeful a partial season for the ferry between Yarmouth, N.S., and Bar Harbor, Maine, may be in the cards after a trip to Washington last week.

Lloyd Hines says the ferry could sail in July, but border officials didn’t confirm that was a possibility

Construction at the Bar Harbor ferry terminal continues, while the province and Bay Ferries await approval from U.S. Customs and Border Protection to operate the Maine to Nova Scotia ferry out of the terminal. The terminal is shown in this June 30, 2019, photo. (Paul Withers/CBC)

The province's transportation minister is hopeful a partial season for the ferry between Yarmouth, N.S., and Bar Harbor, Maine, may be in the cards after a trip to Washington last week.

While the approval from American border security officials to operate out of a terminal in Bar Harbor still hasn't been received, Transportation Minister Lloyd Hines told reporters on Thursday that it's possible the ferry could sail this month.

But Hines said he didn't nail down an expected date for the approval, or confirm that July was a possibility, during his meeting with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Last month, a spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Border Protection said similar applications take 12 to 18 months

The service's start date for 2019 has been delayed twice, pending completed construction of the terminal and approval from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The operator of the ferry service, Bay Ferries, has cancelled reservations up to and including July 18.

Construction is ongoing at the Bar Harbor ferry terminal. The terminal is shown on June 30, 2019. (Paul Withers/CBC)

Since Bay Ferries received the OK to move its U.S. port from Portland to Bar Harbor last year, there have been several submissions and changes sent to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Business Minister Geoff MacLellan said previously.

The company signed a lease earlier this year to use the Bar Harbor terminal.

Hines said the construction schedule at the Bar Harbor terminal makes him hopeful the Cat will sail this summer.

'Apocalyptically asinine'

NDP Leader Gary Burrill said the Liberal government's lack of answers about when the ferry will sail is a "mess."

"The government's whole handling of the Yarmouth ferry continues to be apocalyptically asinine," he said.

PC Leader Tim Houston said the application to U.S. Customs and Border Protection should have been submitted earlier.

"The mistakes they've made on this file are just so numerous and so constant," said Houston. 

Delegation met with senators, congressman

While in Washington, Hines also met with Maine senators Susan Collins and Angus King, Rep. Jared Golden and the chief of staff for South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.

The delegation also met with the province's new ferry lobbyist, David Wilkins, the former American ambassador to Canada.

The province is paying Wilkins $10,000 US a month to lobby on behalf of the service.

With files from Jean Laroche

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.