Lease ex­pires be­tween Bay Fer­ries and Port­land

Com­pany mak­ing move to Bar Har­bor for Cat ferry ser­vice

Annapolis Valley Register - - FRONT PAGE - BY TINA COMEAU SALTWIRE NET­WORK YAR­MOUTH

While there is still much to do and sort out be­fore ferry ser­vice be­tween Bar Har­bor, Maine and Yar­mouth, N.S. is fi­nal­ized, the lease agree­ment be­tween Bay Fer­ries and the City of Port­land has now ex­pired.

“Our com­pany had an op­tion to con­tinue for the 2019 sea­son in Port­land, which was sub­ject to mu­tual agree­ment of the par­ties. That op­tion ex­pired on Dec. 31,” said Mark Mac­Don­ald, pres­i­dent and CEO of Bay Fer­ries. The Cat ferry op­er­ated to and from Port­land the past three years. “We’re very ap­pre­cia­tive to the City of Port­land who worked with us through the fall and ex­tended the ( lease) op­tion date on sev­eral oc­ca­sions on our re­quest.”

Jes­sica Grondin, a spokes­woman for the City of Port­land, also con­firmed the lease ex­pi­ra­tion in a Jan. 3 email, say­ing, “the lease has ex­pired with the City of Port­land. Fu­ture op­er­a­tional ques­tions should be ad­dressed to Bay Fer­ries.”

Bay Fer­ries has been work­ing with the Town of Bar Har­bor to re­sume ferry ser­vice from this port, which the com­pany sailed in and out of from 1997 to 2009. It says it had done so with­out any pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment sub­sidy un­til the year 2006, when it was asked to also take on the Port­land route, which in­creased the com­pany’s ex­penses.

Bay Fer­ries has eyed a re- turn to us­ing Bar Har­bor as its Amer­i­can port start­ing in 2019 to tap into a ro­bust tourism mar­ket and to re­duce op­er­a­tional costs with a shorter sail­ing dis­tance and less fuel con­sump­tion. Uncer­tainty over the fu­ture avail­abil­ity of Port­land as a port was also a fac­tor.

IS­SUES TO SORT OUT

But while Bar Har­bor town coun­cil voted unan­i­mously in Oc­to­ber to au­tho­rize its town man­ager to sign a five- year lease agree­ment with Bay Fer­ries for ferry ser­vice start­ing in 2019, there have been snags.

The town had to ex­tend the clos­ing date for its own $ 3.5- mil­lion pur­chase of the ferry ter­mi­nal prop­erty with the State of Maine when then­gover­nor Paul Lepage re­fused to sign the deed due a change of word­ing he wanted within the doc­u­ment. The town could not sign the lease agree­ment with Bay Fer­ries un­til it of­fi­cially owned the prop­erty, although the Maine De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion did ap­prove a right of en­try to the ferry com­pany to ac­cess the prop­erty and start mi­nor work ahead of the town own­ing the prop­erty.

The clos­ing date for the town’s pur­chase that had been set for Nov. 30 was ex­tended to on or be­fore Jan. 31. Lepage is no longer gover­nor of Maine. The new gover­nor, Janet Mills, was sworn in Jan. 3.

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