Bad year for Yarmouth ferry as it goes 0-for-2019
HALIFAX -- As time ticks by, the Yarmouth ferry sits idle.
The ferry service is supposed to connect Yarmouth to Bar Harbor, Maine -- but it hasn't made a single passenger crossing this year.
With the end of the sailing season quickly approaching, the Nova Scotia government says an update on what's left of the 2019 sailing season is coming soon.
"There's no good news around this for Mark MacDonald and Bay Ferries," said Tourism Minister Geoff MacLellan. "There's no good news for the government, for Minister (Lloyd) Hines, for our cabinet, the premier, myself. This is just, this is bad. It's bad in the sense that we don't have the ferry."
MacLellan says recent tourism numbers are down two per cent and the ferry could be partly to blame.
The owners of the Lakelawn Motel in Yarmouth say they had 1,200 cancellations this year that they believe are directly linked to the ferry not operating.
Many say the ferry is beneficial for the entire province when it's running.
"It's easy to generate outrage around this topic on the subsidy, for example, if you only consider the cost of the subsidy for the ferry and don't consider what the passengers actually spend when the passengers come to Nova Scotia, then anyone can be outraged," said Neil MacKenzie of Yarmouth and Acadian Shores Tourism.
The situation has the opposition MLAs once again calling on the government to take responsibility.
"This is terrible for taxpayers," said Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Houston. "$20 million this year and it won't sail a single time. Somebody has to feel some accountability for that and then you try to learn from it, you try to learn from it how you can structure a contract going forward to make sure this doesn't happen again."
For their part, Bay Ferries says they are making good progress on the land side of the terminal in Bar Harbor.
"We'll update our plans shortly," the company said in a statement. "Obviously, next year is the focus and our priority is the building of a sustainable long term plan."
There's no word yet when that update will be made public.