Province enters negotiations for Yarmouth Ferry

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Yarmouth Ferry Terminal. FILE PHOTO

The province is closer to bringing a ferry service for the families and businesses of southwest Nova Scotia.

Economic and Rural Development and Tourism Minister Graham Steele announced today, Aug. 13, the province will enter into negotiations with STM Quest Inc., a proposed joint venture between ST Marine Ltd. and Quest Navigation, to set up and run a ferry between Yarmouth and Portland, Maine.  

"We've said all along that the province would support a ferry with the right business model and the right partners," said Mr. Steele. "We are very close to having a ferry service that will stand on its own, a service that can be successful and profitable, that families of Southwest Nova Scotia can count on well into the future."

Three companies submitted business plans to operate the ferry service from Yarmouth to Maine, beginning next year. The flexible process allowed the evaluation team to  communicate with the companies, requesting more information, asking questions about the plans they submitted and meeting with each of them.

After the thorough process, the team chose to begin negotiations with STM Quest Inc.

"We would like to thank the government of the province of Nova Scotia for their confidence in selecting us to help restore this vital service," said Steve Durrell, COO of Quest Navigation. "We would also like to assure all Nova Scotians that we will devote our efforts to delivering the best value and a world-class cruise ferry service that will benefit all the people of Nova Scotia and serve as a symbol that makes everyone proud."  

A team of representatives from the Nova Scotia International Ferry Partnership and the province evaluated the plans based on financial stability, a management structure with expertise and a history of managing successful ferry services, and tourism and marketing experience.  

"It's encouraging to see this process continue to move ahead on such an important transportation link," said Keith Condon, co-chair of the Nova Scotia International Ferry Partnership. "Knowing the province is entering negotiations on a proposal that would see a ferry in Yarmouth in 2014 is good news for the community and we are looking forward to a final announcement."  

 A fact sheet on the negotiations, is available at in the Initiatives section.

Organizations: STM Quest, ST Marine, Nova Scotia International Ferry Partnership

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Portland, Maine, Nova Scotians

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Recent comments

  • Ken Sternberg
    August 14, 2013 - 20:10

    I live in Massachusetts and usually visit Nova Scotia every summer to stay at a family cottage on the Bay of Fundy. I just returned from 10 days there and drove to Saint John, NB to catch the ferry to Digby. It's my first visit since the Cat shut down. The long drive around makes the trip pretty awful. I'd be interested in a Portland to Yarmouth ferry if the fares are reasonable, and if the ferry operator's business plan relies on more intelligent planning than depending on government subsidies. As for making Nova Scotia attractive, how about slashing some of the insane sales taxes, especially on groceries (which is an obscene tax in the first place)? Or giving foreign visitors a refund on value added taxes.

    • Mary
      August 29, 2013 - 20:34

      I live in New Hampshire and own a vacation home near Yarmouth. This was wonderful when the ferry was running but there has been a significant decline in rentals since it stopped. I was on the verge of selling the property until I heard of the possible new ferry service next year. I contribute a lot to the local community by way of taxes, employing someone to look after the property, hiring builders etc for repairs, advertising, shopping...yes even paying the sales taxes on everything and the gas prices....I love Nova Scotia and would be happy just to break even with my expenses, so please let's have a ferry service, it'll be a win-win for everyone.

  • Craig Ward
    August 14, 2013 - 17:47

    Maine has helped secure an line of credit for the operators. From what I've been told, the money from Nova Scotia is for marketing, not operations, so the rest of the expense for operating the ferry falls on the operator. Nothing is totally clear right now, with all the rumours and stories flying around. The bottom line is in order for Yarmouth and the southwest shores to be a destination, we have to give people a reason to COME and STAY here! It's easy to sit on our butts and whine and complain, but we as a community have to show that we are committed to it as well by way of providing events, activities and shopping for those tourists. Wisconsin Dells is a prime example of this. It's not a great tourist location but it sure draws them in by way of their waterparks. That place is booming in the summer, and you have to drive to get there. Another thing I think people forget is the effect that 911 had on international tourism. The world is only now starting to recover from that. Also, we need our Canadian dollar to be worth less than the American dollar, to make it attractive for the American tourists. That wouldn't hurt Canadian manufactures either.

  • Ian
    August 14, 2013 - 12:51

    The discussion seems only to be about the contributions of the NS gov. and the NS taxpayer in all this. Where is the state of Maine in these negotiations? Are they not also benficiaries of this service? What is their contribution? Is there any? It seems to me that the responsibility rest only with the Province of NS. Correct me if I am wrong. Thanks.

  • Don
    August 14, 2013 - 01:55

    I don't know why the government made it so complicated. If they let free enterprise run its course , there would have been more then one ferry restored at yarmouth years ago withno subsidies. Instead the people and businesses in yarmouth suffered because of obvious corruption that Canadian journalist failed to investigate

  • Lawrence P Fenton
    August 13, 2013 - 20:52

    I am looking forward to the new Ferry running between Yarmouth and Portland Main. It’s about time people realized this was not just about Yarmouth, it’s about all of Nova Scotia. Everyone can benefit from having tourist in the area. I believe that if this is promoted properly it will be a great thing for everyone. I don’t live in Nova Scotia but do enjoy visiting there; I will be supporting this venture and plan to visit Nova Scotia next summer by way of the new Ferry Service. To the movers and shakers and everyone concerned let’s make this happen it will benefit everyone. Thanks