PORTLAND, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage met with Nova Scotia’s economic development minister on Wednesday to discuss restarting ferry service between Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, and Portland.
Graham Steele, Nova Scotia’s minister of economic and rural development, visited Portland’s Ocean Gateway terminal on Wednesday afternoon, where he met with LePage. Steele offered an update on the province’s plans to begin negotiations with STM Quest, the Eliot, Maine-based company chosen after a competitive bid process to restart ferry service not seen since 2009, according to the governor’s office.
In September 2012, Nova Scotia committed $21 million over seven years to help subsidize ferry service across the Gulf of Maine.
“I’m really pleased with the response of the state and city leaders that I met with in Maine,” Steele said in a statement. “They’re excited about the prospect of a re-established ferry link and are ready to do their part to make it happen.”
STM Quest, a partnership between Maine’s Quest Navigation and Singapore-based shipbuilder ST Marine Ltd., would contract with International Shipping Partners, an experienced ferry operator based in Miami, to run Nova Star Cruises.
During the selection process, LePage wrote a letter to Nova Scotia’s premier expressing his support of STM Quest’s proposal, offering marketing assistance and help in securing an operating line of credit for STM Quest, which was the only Maine company to submit a bid.
If negotiations between the province and STM Quest go well, the ferry service is expected to begin in the spring of 2014. The company already has a ship lined up, which was built by ST Marine Ltd. and will be christened the Nova Star — a 161-meter ship that has a capacity to carry 1,250 passengers and 300 vehicles. It was originally built to ferry passengers and vehicles across the English Channel. It’s currently at dock in Singapore, where it was built.
“Since 2009, Nova Scotia and Maine have missed a critical link between our citizens and economies,” LePage said in a statement. “On behalf of the people of Maine, we welcome restoration of this important service and economic driver.”
Approximately $24 million of the proposed $150 million infrastructure bond, which the appropriations committee on Thursday sent to the full Legislature, will be set aside for multimodal facilities, including those on the Portland waterfront.