Yarmouth ferry terminal to receive $9.7M in upgrades
Money will be used to improve passenger waiting and inspection areas, pontoon and transfer bridge
The ferry terminal in Yarmouth, N.S., will get a $9.7-million upgrade, thanks to contributions from all three levels of government.
The federal and provincial governments will spend $3 million each and the Town of Yarmouth, the Municipality of Yarmouth and the Municipality of Argyle will contribute the remainder.
The money will be used to improve and relocate the passenger inspection booths, replace the pontoon and transfer bridge and upgrade the passenger waiting areas and external lighting.
The Liberal MLA for the area, Zach Churchill, said the upgrades will not only be functional, but will also help improve the "esthetic beauty" of the ferry terminal.
"This is the first impression that people get when they get off the boat and we want to make sure that we're leaving them with a good impression here in Yarmouth as the gateway to Nova Scotia," he said.
The Nova Scotia government has provided $32 million in subsidies since the ferry service between Yarmouth and Portland, Maine, was restarted in 2015.
Churchill defended the new spending, saying the per-passenger subsidy for the service is the same or lower than that of other subsidized ferry services in Nova Scotia.
"The reason we invest heavily into this infrastructure is because there's a return on that investment," he said. "This is like having a highway that connects us to one of the largest tourism markets in the world."
Yarmouth Mayor Pam Mood said the investment is necessary.
"We can't continue the service if we don't have the proper infrastructure in place," she said. "It's difficult for a small town, small municipal units, to put up that type of money, but it just speaks to how committed we are to ensure that this service continues to run."
Bay Ferries, the company that operates the high-speed CAT service, wants to change the U.S. port of entry to Bar Harbor from Portland for the 2019 season. The service operated between Bar Harbor and Yarmouth from 1956 to 2009.
Bay Ferries has offered Bar Harbor about $4 million to upgrade its ferry terminal — an amount the company has asked the province to cover. The company has also offered a minimum annual rent payment of $200,000 on a five-year lease.
The town council is expected to vote on the proposal this fall.
With files from Paul Palmeter