Nova Scotia wants to find out if Yarmouth ferry is worth the price to taxpayers
Province renews lease for The Cat ferry for a year while ordering economic-impact study
The Nova Scotia government is ordering an economic analysis of the ferry service between Yarmouth and Maine to determine how much bang it's getting for its buck.
Public Service Minister Kim Masland said a tender for the work will be issued this fall. She said the methodology for the study would be finalized by the winner of the contract.
"What I can tell you is, it'll be a very broad overview of the economic impacts of the service," she told reporters at Province House on Tuesday.
There have been calls for years for a study looking at the true impact the service has on the province. This year's season just concluded, with the ferry carrying about 36,000 people and 15,000 vehicles since May between Yarmouth, N.S., and Bar Harbor, Maine.
Masland has said the numbers are not as high as the government hoped they would be. The government provided a $17-million subsidy to the service this year.
"This is a service that is funded by taxpayers," said Masland.
"And we need to make sure that we are providing the best value of taxpayers' dollars."
The government also announced Tuesday that it's extended the lease of the vessel used by Bay Ferries for another year.
Liberal Leader Zach Churchill, the MLA for Yarmouth, said he's pleased to hear the government is committing to both the study and service for another year.
Churchill said survey data suggests people using the ferry spent about $35 million in the province during the past sailing season.
"[That's] new money from the U.S. into our economy," he said.
It will be key that any evaluation of the service considers what it does for the tourism sector across the province, said Churchill.