POLITICS

Nova Scotia premier says more consultation was needed on Yarmouth ferry

09/10/2013 03:25 EDT | Updated 11/10/2013 05:12 EST
HALIFAX - Premier Darrell Dexter says his government could have done a better job consulting with people in southwestern Nova Scotia when it cancelled a subsidy that led to the demise of a ferry service from Yarmouth to Maine.

Dexter said Tuesday during the provincial election campaign he believes the decision in 2009 to scrap the annual $6-million subsidy for Bay Ferries was the right one, but the government should have had a more consultative process with people in the region.

"You learn from all of those decisions and, certainly, one of the things we saw following that decision is that community consultation was a much greater part of the work that we did and I think listening to people, hearing what they had to say is a very important thing to do, whenever you're making these kinds of decisions that affect communities," he said.

At the time the subsidy was nixed, the government said it concluded the money-losing business wasn't viable.

The decision prompted protests from residents who said their local tourism industry suffered as a result.

The NDP government has since struck a deal with STM Quest to resume the ferry link next year, offering the company a $21 million fully forgivable loan over seven years.

Dexter said the government now has the ferry on a better track.

"When you're in government you learn from the decisions that you make over time and I think the result of the decision is that the people of southwest Nova (Scotia) are in a much stronger position today, they are going to have a much better service," he said.