Without financial help from the Canadian government, the High-speed ferry, The CAT, will not be providing service between Maine and Nova Scotia this summer.

And there’s a possibility that a monohull will make the crossing in 2011-if the mayor Of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia gets his wish.

Bay Ferries president and CEO Mark MacDonald said on December 18, “On December 15, 2009, the Government of Nova Scotia informed Bay Ferries Limited there would not be an extension of financial support for ferry service out of Yarmouth for the 2010 operating season.” The ferry traveled between that port and Bar Harbor and Portland between May and mid-October, but only carried people and passenger vehicles.

MacDonald continued, “As a result, the high-speed ferry service delivered by our vessel The CAT will end. Appropriate notice and other arrangements will be made with respect to employees of the service. We are sorry to deliver this news at this time of year, but felt it our responsibility to do so promptly once our discussions with the Government of Nova Scotia had concluded.”

At press time, however, efforts were underway to save the ferry service for this season and to possibly improve by replacing the catamaran with a mono-hull it in 2011.

Yarmouth, Nova Scotia Mayor Phil Mooney is determined to restore ferry service. Citing “devastating” economic impact from the loss of The Cat, Mooney has begun a campaign ranging from an on-line petition directed at Bay Ferries to meetings with government officials. On December 30 Mooney said that he’s now looking for funding assistance from the Canadian government.
Mooney said on January 11 that both the area federal member of Parliament and the provincial member of the Legislative Assembly had met with federal Minister of Defense Peter MacKay, who represents Nova Scotia in the federal Cabinet and who also holds the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and the Atlantic Gateway portfolios.

Mooney expressed surprise by the decision’s timing, since a review committee is still studying various aspects of transportation on the Bay of Fundy. Mooney is on the committee, which includes members of the transportation departments of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and the federal Department of Transportation. The report is scheduled for completion this spring. He added that he thought the status quo would be in effect for this season.
Mooney also said that while he’s seeking to restore The CAT to service for this season, he’d like to see a monohull for the 2011 season, adding that he’d like to see a vessel that could carry freight as well as passengers.
Responding to published reports that the Nova Scotia government would consider subsidizing a monohull, provincial Economic and Rural Development Percy Paris said on January 14, “This government is committed to fostering sustainable economic development in southwestern Nova Scotia, and all throughout the province. The province has met with representatives from the Yarmouth area and we are aware of their concerns.”
Paris added, “The province is also working on a study with ACOA to come up with the best options to meet the transportation needs of this area. The Premier has asked that the results of this study be fast-tracked.”

Bay Ferries, based in Charlottetown, Prince Edwards Island, had requested a $6-million subsidy for this season. The provincial government provided $5.65 million last season.

Yarmouth’s economy is heavily dependent on tourism. It has been estimated that the town’s population o 7,000 doubles during tourist season.
The CAT reportedly carried 76,000 passengers last season.

Bob Gustafson is a freelance writer who lives in Eastport.