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Bay Ferries signs $1.3M lease for Bar Harbor terminal

The company the Nova Scotia government is paying to run a ferry service to Maine has signed a $1.3-million lease with the Town of Bar Harbor to use its ferry terminal for the next five years.

Bay Ferries will pay Bar Harbor a minimum of $264,000 a year to lease the terminal, which was last used a decade ago. 

Nova Scotia taxpayers are on the hook to upgrade the facility, fix the dock and build a new loading ramp — but the company won’t discuss those plans and has asked the province to keep quiet about them, too.

Some of the renovations began before Bay Ferries and the town had a signed agreement.

“As various negotiations and pricing processes are underway with a number of contractors, Bay Ferries does not wish to publicly comment on anticipated project costs at this time and has requested that the province of Nova Scotia not do so as it could negatively impact the final cost borne by taxpayers,” Bay Ferries said in a news release Tuesday.

A floating ferry ramp used when the CAT ferry ran to Portland, Maine, will be towed to Bar Harbor and used as part of the loading/unloading structure.

Bay Ferries Limited has inked a deal to lease the ferry terminal in Bar Harbor, Maine. (Google)

The news release also makes reference to the controversial plan to have Nova Scotians pay for border control in the United States.

“Bay ferries/province of Nova Scotia will be required to make a contribution to the cost of this service,” the release said.

The company said it hopes to cut fuel consumption by about 40 per cent given Bar Harbor is closer to Yarmouth than Portland.

“Depending on fuel price, this can translate to several million dollars in savings and renders the overall economics of the ferry service much less susceptible to swings in fuel prices,” it said.

“It is hoped that moving the service to Bar Harbor … will eventually lower the cost to government in the range of [$5 million to $10 million] per year.”

In the three years since Bay Ferries took over the service from Nova Star Cruises, Nova Scotia taxpayers have paid more than $37 million to subsidize operations and pay for capital upgrades.

Nova Scotians who want to book passage on the CAT this summer should be able to start doing so next Monday.

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