Marine Atlantic announced Friday it is suspending the ferry service between Argentia and North Sydney, N.S., for the summer, one day after the Port of Argentia and the Town of Placentia issued a news release saying they have reached a tax agreement after more than two years of negotiations.
In a statement Friday afternoon announcing the ferry run cancellation, Marine Atlantic noted the demand for leisure and tourism travel to and from Newfoundland and Labrador, which has been halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is expected to continue into the summer season.
Customers with cancelled reservations will be given full refunds, Marine Atlantic said.
Marine Atlantic operates two ferry routes: a daily year-round service between Port aux Basques and North Sydney, and a seasonal service that operates between Argentia and North Sydney from mid-June to mid-September. The latter is generally for leisure and tourism travel.
A minimum of two crossings a day will continue on the Port aux Basques route, and there will be no changes to rates for the rest of the year. Additional capacity can be added upon demand, the corporation said.
Murray Hupman, Marine Atlantic’s president and CEO, said the safety of employees and customers is the focus, and suspending the Argentia ferry service was a difficult but logical measure.
“I would like to thank our customers and recognize the impact this decision will have on the local businesses and the tourism industry,” he stated. “We will continue to work with our community and business partners as we move through this challenging period together.”
The tax agreement between the Town of Placentia and the Port of Argentia was reached after negotations ended last December, a joint news release indicated, and will cover the taxation years between 2018 and 2022. It will also include the continuation of an agreement that sees Placentia taking responsibility for municipal services for Argentia.
“The Port of Argentia has always been and will continue to be an important economic driver for the Placentia area, providing both direct and indirect employment and benefits," the release stated, adding Placentia expects to receive about $3 million in revenue over the course of the five-year agreement.
Placentia Mayor Bernard Power said the town and the port were eager to improve their working relationship, as well as their working relationship with community members, in an effort to benefit the Placentia area.