Cabinet will consider ferry funding, says Baird
Canadian Forces Appreciation Fare back again for 2010
NORTH SYDNEY — Transport Minister John Baird said further infrastructure funding for Marine Atlantic will be discussed with his fellow cabinet ministers heading into the March 4 budget.
“There’s no doubt that the age of the fleet and the cost for keeping it in operation is significant, so I did a lot of listening and I’ll be reflecting on that with my colleagues in the weeks and months ahead,” said the Conservative MP for Ottawa West-Nepean. “Obviously, this is not only important for the region, it’s really part of the national highway system, it’s part of the Trans-Canada Highway. It’s important for both Nova Scotia and particularly for Newfoundland, so I don’t need to be convinced of its importance.
“We have to measure this with the other demands on our budget. That’s why it’s important for me to come first-hand to see the need, see the story face to face.”
Baird was in North Sydney Saturday for a tour of the Marine Atlantic facilities, to meet with company representatives and to announce the continuation of the Canadian Forces Appreciation Fare this year.
The discounted fare is for current and former members of the military and their families.
In November, the auditor general’s office released a report on Marine Atlantic that recommended infrastructure for the service needed to improve.
That includes funding for terminals and a fleet update. Marine Atlantic’s newest addition, the MV Atlantic Vision, has had its share of problems since being launched in April of 2009, including a pair of fires to thermal heating units that ultimately caused delays.
In September, Peter MacKay, then minister of the Atlantic Gateway, announced a $9.5-million improvement to the Marine Atlantic dock in North Sydney.
It’s an opportunity
for us to explain those needs to the minister and show him first-hand some of the operation and the condition of
the assets. Wayne Follett, president and
CEO of Marine Atlantic
“The minister, over the last couple of months, has already helped us out on a couple of occasions on infrastructure spending,” said Wayne Follett, president and CEO of Marine Atlantic. “ We still have infrastructure needs here at Marine Atlantic. It’s wellknown that we have shore facilities that need upgrading and we have fleet renewal issues. It’s an opportunity for us to explain those needs to the minister and show him first-hand some of the operation and the condition of the assets.”
The appreciation fare announced Saturday will run from May 1 to Oct. 31 this year. Canadian Forces members and veterans will benefit from free passenger fares on the Port aux Basques/North Sydney ferry route and will get 50 per cent off their passenger fare on the Argentia/North Sydney route. Up to three passengers travelling in the same vehicle on the same reservation will also get the discount.
“I’m very excited that Marine Atlantic is extending a generous fare promotion to our veterans and men and women in uniform,” said Baird. “It was a great success last year with 10,000 passengers taking advantage of the special fare. It’s a great way to show our appreciation to the men and women who stand brave on behalf of our country here in Canada and abroad.”
Along with his stop in North Sydney, Baird was also scheduled to speak at a joint fundraiser Saturday night for the Sydney Victoria Conservative Association and the Cape Breton Canso Conservative Association.
Transport Minister John Baird, left, speaks with veterans Cecil MacLeod, centre, past president of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 19 in North Sydney, and branch president Carl Wall at the Marine Atlantic terminal building in North Sydney, Saturday. Baird was in town to tour the Marine Atlantic facilities and announce the continuation of the Canadian Forces Appreciation Fare for 2010.