By Belle Hatfield
An evaluation committee established by the province’s Department of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism is in its final stages of assessing proposals for a Yarmouth to Maine ferry service.
At the conclusion of the request for proposals process on Jan. 24, two companies had submitted proposals for a ferry service between Yarmouth and Maine.
Percy Paris told the Vanguard Friday, March 1, “We are working on concluding the process as quickly as possible.”
He said he expects to be in a position to share the results soon.
The evaluation committee is made up of representatives from several government departments and the private sector, but the minister would not elaborate on its composition.
“To maintain the integrity and confidentiality of the process, I’m not able to provide specific details about the members of the committee until the process is complete,” he said.
The Nova Scotia International Ferry Partnership does not have a representative on the committee, but Paris said the province has been in regular contact with members throughout the process.
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“They provided feedback on the request for proposals,” he said.
The two American-based companies are Quest Navigation Inc., and Maritime Applied Physics Corporation of Baltimore, Maryland.
Quest Navigation is hoping to provide a year-round service providing both passenger and freight services, while Maritime Applied Physics Corporation is proposing a seasonal tourism service.
Last year an expert panel concluded a cruise-type ferry service could be viable in the long term if it provided a high quality on-board experience, was supported with a sophisticated marketing strategy and leveraged a strong tourist experience in southwest Nova Scotia.
The NDP government cancelled subsidies to the service formerly operated by Bay Ferries Ltd. in 2009, prompting the company to cancel its service in 2010. Last year the province announced it would provide up to $21 million in subsidies over seven years if a viable ferry service was identified through the RFP process.