YARMOUTH, N.S. - Nova Scotia's government has signed an agreement with a Maine-based company to run a ferry service between Portland, Maine, and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, officials announced Tuesday.
The final agreement with STM Quest Inc. sets the stage for the ferry to begin operating as early as May, more than four years after it was scrapped because the subsidies were cut.
The agreement is an important milestone toward restoring the ferry's service, which has been a priority for the Nova Scotia government, officials said.
"I couldn't be happier," Yarmouth Mayor Pam Mood said in a statement. "The people and business operators from our town, and around the region, are ramping up now, poised to make the most of the new ferry service once it arrives."
The agreement calls for the provincial government to provide $10.5 million in startup costs and $1.5 million in annual marketing assistance for a total of $21 million over seven years.
The ferry, called Nova Star Cruises, is expected to run daily between May 1 and Nov. 2 next year. More than 100,000 people are expected travel on the ferry in its first year of operation, Maine Gov. Paul LePage's office said.
The Republican governor, who has been meeting with Nova Scotia officials on development of the new ferry service, said it presents a unique opportunity for Maine and Nova Scotia to connect their citizens and economies.
"With this critical link restored, we can build on the ferry service as an economic driver and continue to build partnerships between the two regions," he said in a statement.
While the company has agreed to a May start date, officials say much work needs to be done to make that happen, including upgrading the ferry terminal in Yarmouth and lining up licensing and permits to operate the ferry.
The deal to resume the ferry service was announced in September after officials reached a tentative deal with STM Quest Inc. Under the amended agreement announced Tuesday, the provincial government will have more control to audit the company's books.