The province has reached an agreement with STM Quest Inc. to operate a cruise ferry between Yarmouth and Portland, Maine.
Economic and Rural Development and Tourism Minister Graham Steele made the announcement today, Sept. 5, in Yarmouth.
“We have a deal,” said Mr. Steele. “STM Quest has a plan to put a cruise ferry in the water in May, and the province and STM Quest have negotiated an agreement that will benefit families, local businesses and tourism operators in southwestern Nova Scotia.”
STM Quest has committed to create new jobs for Nova Scotians and purchase products and services from Nova Scotia businesses.
The province will provide STM Quest $21 million over seven years, with a number of terms and conditions that must be met. Of the $21 million, $10.5 million will go toward start-up costs, with $1.5 million each year for marketing over the seven years.
“We are very pleased with the tremendous progress that we have made,” said Mark Amundsen, president and CEO of Quest Navigation. “We are working to finalize the details of our joint venture, and we’re excited to start moving ‘full steam ahead’ with our plans to re-establish the Yarmouth-Portland cruise ferry service in May of 2014.”
Some of the terms and conditions STM Quest must meet include:
— a finalized joint-venture agreement between ST Marine and Quest Navigation
— all required licences and permits
— the ferry being operated on the agreed schedule
The sailing schedule will be May 1 to Oct. 31, departing Yarmouth daily at 9 a.m. and arriving in Portland at 5 p.m., local time. The return trip would leave Portland at 8 p.m. and arrive in Yarmouth at 7 a.m., local time.
“This is the news we have been waiting for,” said Yarmouth Mayor Pam Mood. “The feeling here in Yarmouth and throughout the province is one of both relief and excitement. Thank you to all parties involved for the hard work and dedication.”
“There’s still much to be done and I know the town and surrounding communities are on board. A warm welcome to STM Quest. We’re so glad to have you and look forward to the relationships we’ll build!”
“This is a big piece of the puzzle, but there are still a number of things that have to fall into place for a 2014 ferry service to happen,” said Mr. Steele. “We will continue to work with our partners to create the conditions needed for a viable and successful ferry between Yarmouth and Portland.”
Background information and the letter of offer are available at http://novascotia.ca/econ/ in the Initiatives section.