The mayor of Yarmouth didn’t get the early Christmas gift he was hoping for yesterday, but was left with some hope Yarmouth could see a new ferry service.
Mayor Phil Mooney travelled to Halifax with four proposals for Premier Darrell Dexter to keep the Cat running. After the meeting Dexter said he was standing by his decision to deny Bay Ferries a further $6 million to subsidize the Cat.
But there was a small compromise to fast-track a regional transportation study that could lead to a replacement for the Cat. It will be released two months early in January.
“I’m not going to say I’m totally happy because we didn’t get our boat for 2010 yet. But the premier was receptive, he listened to what we had to say,” Mooney said.
“It’s not only Yarmouth, it’s all of Nova Scotia this is affecting.”
Dexter said the decision was not made lightly and his government considered the impact of the Cat shutting down on the entire province. But he said the ferry has seen a drop off of passengers and with it an “erosion of the economic impact on the province.”
Dexter said a new ferry must be self-sustainable and likely must include cargo service.
“What we want to come out of this is a stronger transportation strategy for Southwest Nova,” he said. “One that is sustainable, one that does not require the continued subsidization.”
Shawn Cummings was one of several Cat employees who travelled to Halifax to show support for the ferry. He said a replacement service would be hurt if the Cat fails now.
“In order to have a long-term solution for sustainable ferry service coming into Nova Scotia, it has to be an uninterrupted service,” he said.
“It’s going to take many more years and many more millions of dollars to try to get (tourists) back when they’ve already gone elsewhere for vacation.”
Yarmouth Progressive Conservative MLA Richard Hurlburt said allowing the Cat to shut down would devastate Southwest Nova and hurt the entire province.
“If we were still in government we would not be here today debating this,” he said.
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