Taxpayers may end up footing a much larger bill for Yarmouth ferry

January 08, 2019 at 8:56 am

PC critic Dunn says Liberals must guarantee Nova Scotians won’t be on the hook

Progressive Conservative Transportation critic Pat Dunn says the McNeil Liberals must guarantee that Nova Scotia taxpayers will not be on the hook to purchase a terminal and pay for US Custom officers in Bar Harbor.

Last week, Bay Ferries confirmed that the terminal lease in Portland has expired and the company expects to operate between Yarmouth and Bar Harbor for the 2019 season. Unfortunately,  the purchase agreement for the Bar Harbor terminal is not finalized and US Customs and Border Protection expects Bay Ferries to pay for five to seven additional customs agents to staff the terminal.

“Nova Scotians already paid dearly for the ferry service,” Dunn said.  “We expect the Liberal government to protect taxpayers from paying for an expensive ferry terminal renovation in the U.S.”

In 2016, Nova Scotia taxpayers footed a $4.1 million dollar bill for start-up costs that included Portland terminal upgrades like painting the lines on the pavement in the staging area, ramp improvements and all utilities. According to news stories, the Bar Harbour terminal contains asbestos and PCBs that must be removed.

Dunn is also concerned that Nova Scotians may never learn what they paid for in Bar Harbor or how much it costs. Bay Ferries has said they have been asked to keep details about the costs of additional customs officials secret.  Late last year, Nova Scotia’s FOIPOP Commissioner issued a report that recommended the government disclose all information about the 2016 management fee Nova Scotians paid to Bay Ferries.  To date, the government has failed to fulfill the Commissioner’s recommendation.

“When Nova Scotians are picking up the tab, they deserve to know what they are paying for,” Dunn concluded. “If the Liberals won’t protect taxpayers, they must, at the very least, be transparent.”