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Town of Yarmouth may seek intervenor status on lawsuit

The Cat ferry sailing in Yarmouth, N.S. harbour. TINA COMEAU
The Cat ferry sailing in Yarmouth, N.S. harbour. TINA COMEAU - Tina Comeau
YARMOUTH, N.S. —

The Town of Yarmouth may look into making a request for intervenor status in the Nova Scotia Conservative Party's lawsuit against the government concerning the release of sensitive contractual information with Bay Ferries, Ltd.

In a media release, the town says the growing concern about the negative publicity being generated around the International ferry service as a result of this lawsuit has caused loss of development and continues to impact the entire region's economic progress.

"I've spoken to several investors, developers, and business owners in recent days and all have expressed grave concerns about the negativity surrounding the service and are worried about the huge risks involved going forward," stated Mayor Pam Mood. "The perception alone that under a Conservative government the ferry could be disrupted, or worse, cancelled, has caused and continues to cause fear and subsequently, damage as it pertains to new and continued investments.”

The PC government is taking the Liberal government to force it to release management fees that are included as part of the annual subsidy paid to Bay Ferries to operate the ferry service between Nova Scotia and Maine. Although the province’s privacy commissioner recommended that the province release the fees, the provincial government has said it won’t release the information. It says it would be harmful to Bay Ferries as a private company if competitors had access to this type of financial information.

With the ferry service continuously in the news, there is concern that negativity is harmful to the service. And nervousness over whether future governments would stay committed to a service.

The mayor plans to bring a resolution to council this week to grant the request for intervenor status as a means to ensure the negative social and economic impact is heard and understood as part of the lawsuit. The town has a committee of the whole meeting Friday, March 1 and this may be added to that agenda.

“Hundreds of people in southwest Nova Scotia and across the Province make their living in the multi-billion-dollar tourism industry, and to now be worried about losing their livelihood yet again is simply unacceptable,” she said, in the media release. “After all the work that has gone into re-establishing the service as a result of a poor decision by the previous (NDP) government to cancel it in 2009, and the millions invested by business owners, the game of political football with this service needs to stop before irreversible damage is done.”

Since the ferry’s reestablishment, business confidence is up and economic gains have been realized across the province, says the town.

"The public knows the cost of keeping the service in place, and by now we should all understand the significant return on investment," said the mayor. "The constant negative narrative in the media around the Maine to Nova Scotia service needs to be turned around before we end up in the same dire situation we were in a decade ago."

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