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September 7, 2018

Bar Harbor residents divided on CAT return

Courtesy / Bay Ferries Ltd.
Courtesy / Bay Ferries Ltd.
The high-speed CAT ferry that once shuttled daily between Bar Harbor and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, could be plying that route again next summer, under a proposal being negotiated between Bay Ferries Ltd. and the town of Bar Harbor.

Bar Harbor residents voiced divergent opinions this week during a hearing on whether the town should accept a proposal from Prince Edward Island company Bay Ferries Ltd. to restore ferry service from Bar Harbor to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

Mount Desert Islander reported that at a Sept. 5 town council hearing on the topic some residents expressed concern that the town wasn't giving citizens enough time to consider the plan, raising questions about potential limits on other waterfront activity and increased influx of visitors.

But Tom Crikelair, who has been advising Town Manager Cornell Knight on the project, said the timing is good, given that Bay Ferries and Portland want to end their agreement providing for Portland-to-Nova Scotia ferry service.

In related news, Yarmouth County Vanguard, a Yarmouth, N.S., newspaper, reported this week the Yarmouth International Ferry Terminal will be undergoing upgrades that include improvements to overall terminal facilities. Federal, regional and local governments are contributing $9 million toward Phase 1 redevelopment.

"The municipality of Yarmouth's investment in the Nova Scotia-Maine ferry service through upgrades to the Yarmouth terminal signifies a continued partnership with regional, provincial and federal partners as well as the private sector," Yarmouth Warden Leland Anthony said.

The Bar Harbor Town Council voted in July to negotiate with Bay Ferries regarding its proposal to reinstitute ferry service between Bar Harbor and Nova Scotia.

The proposal is for a $1 million, five-year lease of a vacant town-owned marine terminal on Eden Street in order to restore high-speed ferry service to Yarmouth. Bay Ferries has said it would pay rent of at least $200,000 per year. The company would also make $3 million in improvements to the property, including a dock ramp, pilings, building renovations and parking upgrades.

Service would start in June 2019, according to the proposal, using the 349-foot catamaran Bay Ferries currently runs between Nova Scotia and Portland. The Portland-to-Nova-Scotia service would be discontinued.

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