Nova Scotia officials visit Portland to discuss re-starting ferry service

Seems Portland officials finally had a sit down with their counterparts in Nova Scotia to discuss restarting ferry service.

The city sent out a press release saying Mayor Michael Brennan and Mark Rees, the city manager, met last week with Nova Scotia officials, including Albert Wlazak, the Canadian province’s director of environment and social affairs, and Paul Gillis, executive director of its Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. The officials toured Portland’s marine facilities that could support the ferry and freight service.

I’m sure the meeting included a discussion of Portland’s financial commitment to restarting ferry service between the city and Yarmouth, N.S. While Nove Scotia has pledged $21 million to re-establish the ferry linkage, Portland has avoided making any monetary commitment.

Brennan told me last month that the city wasn’t in a position to put any significant subsidies on the table. While Portland would surely benefit from the ferry service, it’s a safe assumption that the loss of the service has hit the Nova Scotia economy harder than it has Portland’s.

While Portland can’t offer millions in subsidies, he said the city and state have invested heavily in the Ocean Gateway terminal, on the east end of the waterfront, and the International Marine Terminal, on the opposite end, that would accomodate the ferry service.

Brennan said re-establishing ferry service is a “priority” for Portland.

“Portland and Yarmouth have enjoyed a close relationship for generations and we have both benefitted from the economic and tourism opportunities associated with the ferry service,” he said in a statement. “I along with city and state officials will continue to support this initiative and will work closely with the governments of Yarmouth and Nova Scotia to see this service restored.”

Nova Scotia earlier this month released a request for proposals (search for RFP #60145162) in an effort to locate a private sector ferry operator. Proposals are due by January 24, 2013.

Whit Richardson

About Whit Richardson

Whit Richardson is Business Editor at the Bangor Daily News. He blogs about Maine business, entrepreneurs and the economy.