Federal ferry announcement in the morning in Saint John

Jonathan Riley, Digby Courier jriley@digbycourier.ca
Published on July 15, 2014

Clare-Digby MLA Gordon Wilson and Digby Mayor Ben Cleveland were among the Nova Scotians heading for Saint John Tuesday night, July 15 to be on hand for a federal announcement regarding “ferry services in Eastern Canada” scheduled for Wednesday morning.

©Jonathan Riley

The federal government is making an announcement tomorrow regarding “ferry services in Eastern Canada”.

Lisa Raitt, the federal Minister of Transport, is scheduled to speak at the Bay Ferries terminal in Saint John at 10 a.m.

The Premier of New Brunswick, David Alward and the MLA for Clare-Digby are also taking part in the press conference.

Digby’s Mayor Ben Cleveland, the Warden of the Municipality of the District f Digby Linda Gregory and Christopher Wright of the Bay of Fundy Transportation Society are all heading over tonight to be in Saint John for the announcement in the morning.

Tomorrow's announcement might be a confirmation of the $58 million dollars proposed in the 2013 and 2014 federal budgets for the continued operation of all three regional ferry services - the Digby--Saint John, PEI and Newfoundland ferry services.

Wright said he hopes the announcement is something more, something  worth the trip.

“They announced how much money they’re willing to spend last year so we’re hoping they’re going to tell us what the new boat is going to be,” said Wright before boarding the ferry Tuesday.

Last June, Conservative MPs Peter MacKay, Gerry Keddy, Greg Kerr and Rodney Weston were in Digby to announce their government’s commitment to providing a replacement vessel for the Digby-Saint John ferry service.

The federal government released a Public Notice of Ferry Purchase last November for a replacement vessel for the Princess of Acadia which currently operates on Digby—Saint John run.

The PNFP did not invite proposals per se, but allowed for written responses identifying vessels, which fit the search parameters outlined in the PNFP.

The government was also to scan “the domestic and international market, including by searching Internet Databases”.

The tentative project schedule outlined in the PNFP says Transport Canada wanted to finish the identification of candidate vessels by Jan. 3, 2014.

Read more about what a new ferry might look like.

They hoped to have selected “the most suitable vessel” by May 31 and were hoping for delivery of the replacement vessel to Canada by July 31.

They Princess of Acadia has been in service on the Bay of Fundy since 1971 with room for 155 cars and 33 tractor trailers.

Transport Canada owns the vessel and Bay Ferries Ltd., a private company, has the contract to operate the service until March 2015.