The new NDP government has been saddled with many problems in its first few months in power: labour disputes, budget deficits and even traveling expenses. However, as troubling as these items are now nothing will come back to bite Nova Scotia and the other Atlantic problems like the termination of a ferry service between the U.S. and Nova Scotia.
For those who either think that a ferry service is a drain on Nova Scotia taxpayers, or who just couldn’t care less, ponder the following:
1. The South Shore Economy
Without the ferry running people back and forth between the U.S. and Nova Scotia the businesses of the South Shore and lower Annapolis Valley will be directly affected. This includes every business from bed-and-breakfasts to convenient stores. These are enterprises that pay taxes (HST and income), money that goes into the tax and school system. Without this influx of revenue both Canadian taxpayers and those from the towns in the county of “I-Couldn’t-Really-Care, Nova Scotia” will have to pony up to keep schools and infrastructure up.
Take a good look at a map of North America. Nova Scotia is stuck out into the Atlantic. Now look at the major centers and ask yourself, “If a person wanted to come here from the U.S., how would would they come in?” The airlines are expensive, and driving here looks like The Great Trek. The ferry from Bar Harbor or Portland gave travelers more reason to come here.
3. Gateway to Atlantic Canada
With the ferry to Yarmouth a family from Boston or other parts of the eastern U.S. who wanted to visit Atlantic Canada could take in 4 provinces in one trip. Landing in Yarmouth they made their way up to to Cape Breton and took another ferry to Newfoundland. On the way back they got on another ferry at Caribou and visited P.E.I., then took the Confederation bridge to New Brunswick – where they were on the highway back through new Brunswick and home. This routing makes it more attractive for Americans to visit Newfoundland, a choice that may not be a priority without the ferry.
4. Foreign Tour Companies
I just mentioned that the routing is best for FIT (free independent travelers) travelers but what about the bus tours? Each year hundreds of buses come across on the ferry system. Without the ferry their plans would be altered and a “Canadian Tour” might miss out on staples like the Cabot Trail or Kejimkujik National Park. Again, look at the map and see it as if you are a tour designer. The route is not as attractive without the ferry.
5. Halifax Will be the Sole Entry Point
Although I live in HRM this area is just a part of Nova Scotia. Right now cruise ships have turned seeing Nova Scotia into a half-day trip from the Pier21. Without a ferry this phenomenon could grow so that that more and more tours will be designed using Halifax as the hub instead of part fo the entire tour.
We may not need the ferry in its present form, but we could definitely use the old-style, car-carrying ships that run on a dependable schedule. Because it’s easy to dismiss the ferry when its -10 Celsius but the real cost will hit us next fall when we read about the 2010 tourism statistics and business closures.