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CAT ferry to begin sailing season on June 21, allowing for construction and training

CAT ferry to begin sailing season on June 21, allowing for construction and training

The high-speed ferry service between Yarmouth, N.S., and Bar Harbor, Maine is set to begin its sailing season on June 21, 2019, later than any season since Bay Ferries Ltd., launched the CAT ferry in 2016.

Mark MacDonald, the CEO of Bay Ferries, says the delay is to allow for completion of construction at the Bar Harbor Ferry Terminal, along with “training and preparation time.”

The 2019 sailing season is set to be the first where the CAT will call Bar Harbor its American port of call. For the past three seasons, it has sailed between Yarmouth and Portland, Maine.

Details on this season’s availability come from Bay Ferries website, with online reservations being available for July 1. For bookings between June 21 and June 30, customers are being urged to call the company’s toll-free reservation line.

A screenshot of the Bay Ferries website on Feb. 25, 2019.

Bay Ferries Ltd.

READ MORE: Bay Ferries signs lease with Bar Harbor, clearing one of the final hurdles for the service

In 2016, the CAT launched on June 15 while in 2017 it launched on May 31 and in 2018 the season began on June 1.

Last week, Bay Ferries announced that it had officially signed a lease with the Town of Bar Harbor for a period of five years, with a guaranteed minimum annual rent of $264,000, backed by a US$1-million guarantee from the province of Nova Scotia.

Along with the guarantee, the province is investing in the service this off-season by funding the “substantial renovation” required by the new lease. Documents filed with the planning board in Bar Harbor indicated renovations could come in between US$3.25 million and US$3.75 million.

Those renovation fees come in addition to a subsidy provided to Bay Ferries by the province every year of the 10-year deal to provide the ferry service.

The provincial subsidy for the 2018 sailing season was projected to be $10.9 million.

The renovations are under even without a new contract between Bay Ferries and the Nova Scotia government as the previous contract had been contingent on service between Yarmouth, N.S., and Portland, Maine.

As of last week, a new contract has yet to be signed and it’s unclear if the subsidy will change with a new deal.

WATCH: Few answers even as Bay Ferries move to Bar Harbor steams ahead

The ongoing renovations at the Bar Harbor ferry terminal include the demolition of existing buildings outside the terminal’s customs area, as well as several outbuildings and portions of the ferry terminal’s interior.

Equipment and technology required by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), repairs to the existing terminal, a new fixed bridge and a floating ferry ramp are also being installed.

The documents filed with Bar Harbor include a letter from Bay Ferries, confirming that Nova Scotia will “ultimately bear responsibility for the costs of readying the Bar Harbor facility for ferry service.”

The deal is still contingent on CBP signoff, and the funding to hire an additional five to seven officers to operate the terminal.

The customs agency has asked Bay Ferries to enter into an agreement that would see them foot the bill for the salaries of the new employees, a deal that is likely to be funded by the Nova Scotia government.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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