Framing for another structure at the Bar Harbor ferry terminal has been erected in the last week. The company is “closely following regulatory directives and government guidance” in both Maine and Canada, according to the CEO of the ferry company hoping to resume international ferry service here this year. ISLANDER PHOTO BY SARAH HINCKLEY

Mid-July eyed for ferry start



BAR HARBOR — The earliest the Cat ferry could begin service between Bar Harbor and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, is July 15, the ferry company announced Tuesday. 

The coronavirus pandemic handed yet another setback to Canadian company Bay Ferries, which originally planned to resume operating the high-speed car ferry in May 2019 after suspending service here in 2010. 

We are closely following regulatory directives and government guidance in both Canada and the U.S.,” CEO Mark MacDonald said in a statement. “We look forward to presenting our plans to governments and health authorities in both countries and obtaining their guidance as events unfold further in the weeks ahead. 

Under current regulations from Transport Canada specifically for ferries, he said, they may operate at half passenger capacity and/or if certain safety measures are followed. The Fundy Rose, Bay Ferries’ vessel that sails between Digby, Nova Scotia, and Saint John, New Brunswick, has been operating at a reduced capacity, with no food service and with passenger health and travel screenings, according to the Chronicle Herald newspaper. 

In Maine, passenger vessels capable of carrying more than 50 passengers are grouped in Stage 4 of Governor Janet Mills’ reopening plan. The timeline is subject to change, but when the plan was announced, that stage was not expected to begin until September. 

We are cognizant that events are unfolding very rapidly and that this is an enormously complicated issue for our countries and our communities,” MacDonald saidAnd there are many demands on our public health authorities and governments. While we would like certainty on our operation details for the sake of our business, our customers and the communities we serve, that is not realistically possible right now. 

The ferry is a major economic driver for Yarmouth and Nova Scotia; Bay Ferries operates under a contract with the province that includes substantial public subsidy. 

On the Bar Harbor side, Bay Ferries leases a portion of the ferry terminal property from the town, under a five-year agreement that guarantees minimum rent and provides for additional payments tied to ticket revenue. 

Revenue from overnight parking for ferry passengers will also go to the town. 

The town’s Planning Board approved the site plan for the renovated facility submitted by Atlantic Fleet Services, Bay Ferries’ local agent, in February of last year. A building permit was issued in June and work has been ongoing ever since. 

The ramp that will be used for vehicles to enter and exit the ferry was moved from Portland last summer. The Cat ferry made a brief visit to test the fit, and town officials were invited aboard. 

 

 

Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.

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