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Transportation minister hopeful ferry will make few runs, Burrill calls it 'ludicrous'

Bay Ferries says it is refunding all sailings that have been booked on The Cat and it is no longer accepting new reservations for the 2019 sailing season until there is a definitive answer of when the ferry will sail.
Construction on the Bar Harbor terminal has yet to be completed, but Transportation Minister Lloyd Hines told reporters on Thursday that he’s still hopeful that the ferry will get some runs in by the end of the season. - Tina Comeau

With only weeks left in the sailing season the province’s claim that the stalled Yarmouth to Maine ferry might yet salvage a few crossings is “exponentially ludicrous,” says NDP Leader Gary Burrill.

Transportation Minister Lloyd Hines told reporters on Thursday that he’s still hopeful that the ferry will get some runs in before the province’s sailing contract with Bay Ferries ends in mid-October. Construction on the Bar Harbor terminal has yet to be completed and has not received regulatory approval from United States Customs and Border Protection.

Hines couldn’t predict when the preparation work might be concluded and sailings could begin.

“I’m not sure exactly, that depends on the progress,” said Hines. “Our senior people were down there and had a look and the outside work is now being done. Paving is ready to go in. It depends when we get the go signal from U.S. Customs. ... We’re still hopeful to get sails in in the next month.”

Hines also said the province hasn’t ruled out the possibility of extending the season beyond mid-October. But he said his department hasn’t formally discussed that option with the company. He said that would likely require paying more money to Bay Ferries.

“There would be costs associated with providing that service and it would be reasonable to think that would be the case.”

Hines acknowledged that there was an option to keep the ferry terminal in Portland this season rather than moving to Bar Harbor, but the minister insisted that there were a lot of factors associated with the decision to relocate.

The NDP leader said he felt sorry for Hines and that the government would “send him out to say something as exponentially ludicrous as we’re going to save part of the season.”

“And that the province made the right decision to leave Portland to go to Bar Harbor,” said Burrill.

The province is ignoring the economic plight of residents and businesses in southwestern Nova Scotia that had been relying on the service running this year, said Burrill.

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