Yarmouth Ferry

New Ferry Service for Nova Scotia?

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Friday’s announcement to restore ferry service from Yarmouth to Maine is a positive step, but proves the Dexter government was wrong from the start when they abruptly cancelled it three years ago.

“The viability of the ferry should have been determined from the start, not after the NDP made the costly mistake to cancel the service,” said d’Entremont. “In the three years the NDP have wasted, the economy has been driven into the ground, businesses have closed and families have had to leave. It’s unacceptable.”

d’Entremont says today’s announcement proves the NDP got it wrong, but won’t admit it or apologize to the people who have lost their jobs or businesses. Statistics Canada data released today show Southern Nova Scotia is down 8,600 full-time jobs over the past three years.

“Our region has been suffering since the loss of the ferry service,” said d’Entremont. “It will take hard work to get tourism numbers back where they were before the NDP cancelled the ferry but I think businesses, residents and all levels of government want this and will work together to make it happen.”

d’Entremont says he will continue to work with West Nova MP Greg Kerr to encourage the federal Conservative government to reaffirm their commitment to renovate or replace the ferry terminal facility.


Chambre de commerce d’Argyle Chamber of Commerce

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La Chambre de commerce d’Argyle vous invite cordialement d’assister à leur déjeuner d’affaires avec l’Honorable Jamie Baillie, chef du parti progressiste conservateur de la Nouvelle-Écosse.

Quand : le jeudi 16 aôut 2012 de 8h00 à 9h30.
Où : Ye Old Argyler Lodge, 52 Chemin Ye Old Argyler, Argyle, N.-É.

Le déjeuner sera du style buffet.
15$ par personne.

Veuillez contacter Donovan d’Eon au 648-3388 ou par courriel a commerceargyle@gmail.com pour acheter vos billets à l’avance.

The Argyle Chamber of Commerce cordially invites you to attend their business breakfast with the Honourable Jamie Baillie, Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia.

When: Thursday, August 16, 2012 from 8:00am to 9:30am.
Where: Ye Old Argyler Lodge, 52 Ye Old Argyler Road, Argyle, N.S.

Buffet-style breakfast.
$15 per person.

Please contact Donovan d’Eon at 648-3388 or by email at commerceargyle@gmail.com to purchase your tickets in advance.

Question on Yarmouth Ferry – Gardner Pinfold Report

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Question I asked the NDP Government on the newly released Gardner Pinfold Report on the viability of a ferry service from Yarmouth to New England. Copied from Hansard November 16, 2011.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D’ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, yesterday an economic analysis study suggested that a business case can be made for a Nova Scotia to New England international ferry service. The study completed by Gardner Pinfold Consulting supports the contention that a seasonal international ferry operation between Nova Scotia and the United States could be financially viable and contribute billions of dollars to the provincial economy. On November 16, 2010 the Premier (Interruptions) I’ve been hearing lots of noise from the government here. They don’t even want to hear about a report from Gardner Pinfold. I’ll happily continue on here and maybe they’ll listen. On November 16, 2010, the Premier told the CBC, what we said to the municipal officials here is that we are perfectly willing to work with officials in Yarmouth to look for a service that will suit the region and one that is sustainable over the long term. The business community has satisfied the Premier’s 2010 condition. Mr. Speaker, will the Premier fulfill his 2010 promise and support the community on the ferry project and provide some hope to our area?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I think the honourable member ought to actually take the study and read it. In fact what it says is that if the Canadian dollar should decline, if the U.S. economy should increase, if they are able to generate four times as many passengers on a new ferry as they did on the old one, then it will become a sustainable business. What I have said is that we are prepared to participate in any service that shows itself to be a viable, continuing service for the area and we stand by that.

MR. D’ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, in this House on May 11th the Minister of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism said, “What we are also willing to do, and I’ve said this time and time again, if somebody comes forward to us with a plan with respect to – whether it be ferry service or anything else, we are willing to look at it and it will be measured on its own merit.” According to the Gardner Pinfold study, an effective marketing campaign combined with a creative tour package, could see a recovery of U.S. traffic exceeding 100,000 passengers in the first year of renewed Yarmouth-Portland cruise ferry service. The minister has seen this study. We know this because he is quoted in the press release issued by the Nova Scotia International Ferry Partnership. He has seen the evidence and he knows that an international ferry has merit. My question to the minister is, will he commit today to making the ferry project a priority for his department? Will he act quickly so that southwest Nova Scotia doesn’t lose another tourist season and sink further into despair?

HON. PERCY PARIS: Mr. Speaker, what this government and what I will commit to, that if a viable, sustainable transportation system for the southwest region comes forward, this government has said we would look at it. It will stand on the business case that is presented with it and with its own merit. That’s what I offered, it’s a fair offer.

MR. D’ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, the traffic forecast contained in the Gardner Pinfold study projects the ferry service could expect to break even, or even generate a modest positive net return and an annual revenue stream in the $24 million to $26 million range. Add this figure to the expected economic impact associated with the ferry service, $16 million in annual gross tourism spending throughout the province, $3.5 million – that’s about 21 per cent – would be spent annually in the Yarmouth-Acadian Shore-South Shore impact regions, the creation of 260 jobs, the creation of $8 million of labour income in the province and $1.7 million in southwest Nova Scotia. These figures represent a lifeline to a drowning region, Mr. Speaker. I’m just asking that this government doesn’t blow this opportunity. They said a business case can be made for the Cape Breton railroad and they supported that project. My question to the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism is, now that the minister has proof that the wanted ferry service is viable, will he act in his best interest for the people of Nova Scotia and southwest Nova Scotia, just as he did for Cape

MR. PARIS: Mr. Speaker, if someone comes forward with a business case, what the member is quoting is – he is quoting from a report. I think, and I said yesterday, that report is based on certain assumptions, which I may add, assumptions and conclusions that are very, very generous. Mr. Speaker, if somebody wishes to come forward with a solid business case, as I said, we will look at it. It will be measured and evaluated on the merits of the business case that it presents to us.


Yarmouth Ferry Part 2

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This has been a busy two days in regards to further failure by the NDP government to understand the full picture in regards to the contract with Bay Ferries to run the Yarmouth to New England service. At issue is comments from the Minister of Economic Development and Minister of Tourism Culture and Heritage Percy Paris yesterday in the Cabinet scrum.

Economic Development Minister Percy Paris said Thursday that Bay Ferries Ltd.’s agreement with the previous Tory government included $3 million in transition payments if the service shut down.

Six monthly payouts of $500,000 start April 1 unless the ferry is sold, one of Mr. Paris’s staffers said.

The payments are part of the deal the previous government announced last January to provide Bay Ferries with up to $12 million to keep the Cat running between Yarmouth and Maine in 2009. The $3 million in transition payments is part of the $12 million.

Mr. Paris said his government has no choice but to honour the deal. “There is a legal obligation to live up to the agreement that was signed by the previous government, and we will honour that,” he said after a cabinet meeting.

The minister said he couldn’t understand why the province would agree to give a company money for not providing a service. “It puzzled me,” he said.

There are few points of contention that I have with these statements, firstly is that, why is this only coming out now? My colleague, Yarmouth MLA Richard Hurlburt, has said from the start of this fiasco that Percy’s numbers didn’t add up when he was talking about the 12 million that went to Bay Ferries. Richard has said that there was a transition of 3 million there that could be used to “buy” another year until the transportation study is complete. 
It seems that Percy might have though he might be able to get out of that part of the contract and therefore save money. What is now apparent is that he finally woke up and has put in motion the payment to Bay Ferries. Had he done his due diligence, he would have realized that cancelling the service would not save the province a cent, and in fact cost it some revenue.
If we add the now 3 million dollars of pay-out to the lost provincial HST revenue, are we not coming in well beyond the total ask of 6 million dollars to keep the ferry operational for another year? Plus this week, Conservative MP Greg Kerr speaking to Radio CJLS has said he is frustrated with the provincial government not talking to the federal government to see if there is some kind of partnership that can be developed. Darrell has closed the door on the issue. He had a great opportunity the other day when he shared the stage with Prime Minister Harper at an announcement in Truro. (Where Darrell announced a contribution of 10 million dollars, boo! hoo! we have no money!) I bet he didn’t say a word about it!
With 3 million dollars available, you’d think that Percy or Darrell (oh yeah! he’s on vacation) that they’d call the feds and use it as leverage to get the feds to help out for this year.
The other issue is the constant blaming of others for the NDP screw ups. You know I have big shoulders and really don’t care what the NDP says, but in this case enough is enough. Percy continues to scramble around on this one trying to find an out, he’s the guy that’s suppose to promote and support our economy and tourism industry. I know he knows in his heart that that he has royally messed up his first test of competency. It’s time he steps aside and let’s someone else pick up the pieces!

Yarmouth Ferry to New England

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Last week in my update, I didn’t mention the ferry because I knew that the action committee, made up of the local Municipalities had a meeting with Shelburne MLA and Minister of Fisheries and Environment Sterling Belliveau on Friday.  Plus, I gotta tell you,  it’s really hard to figure out where to start on this issue.
Firstly, let’s talk about the decision itself.  Bay Ferries, owners of the CAT, had been negotiating with folks at rural and economic development for some time.  The issue, we figure, was brought to Cabinet by Minister Percy Paris for discussion early in December.  We also figure that there was no recommendation from either department involved, just impact information, as Richard Hurlburt and I questioned the Deputy Minister at Economic Development about the issue.  So what this really boils down to is that the Premier and his weak cabinet made a bad decision without all the information to discontinue the service.  But it looks like Darrell doesn’t want to change anything to fix this mistake.  Regardless of all the wonderful videos on YouTube, the impact information, and the businesses that are crying for help, there doesn’t seem to be much movement.  The challenge we have now it that we are getting close to the end of the road to get Darrell to reverse the decision, the Doers and Dreamers Guide needs to go to print in February, just to name one.
Secondly, is that the main decision maker is out of town on vacation. Premier Dexter is out until the 7th of February and then heads to Vancouver for the Olympics as soon as he gets back.  I don’t diminish the fact that people need vacation, it’s bad timing for a newby Premier.  What really gets my goat on this one is that at the meeting with Minister Belliveau, according to a few friends that were there, Sterling seemed to be unaware of any of the facts surrounding the ferry issue that that he couldn’t understand why people were so worked up.  He committed to speaking with the Premier about the issue, hopefully understanding the urgency of this situation.  My question is simple, did Sterling call Darrell before he headed on vacation?
Finally, why nobody has organized a protest at One Government Place is beyond me.  If this was anywhere else in the province, they would be camped out that the Premier’s doorstep.  All I can do is say this – there were times when decisions in our government that were swayed due to the out pouring of emotion on Granville Street, and this government is still new and their skin is still thin. The protest needs to come from the Industry and the men, women and children that are being negatively affected by Darrell’s bad decision.
More updates to come.