06/06/2012 11:15 EDT | Updated 08/06/2012 05:12 EDT

Lunenburg fears lack of info on Bluenose II launch could be lost opportunity

LUNENBURG, N.S. - Members of town council in Lunenburg are calling on the Nova Scotia government to provide more information on the launch of the Bluenose II, but the province's heritage minister says they can't because they don't know when it will happen.

The historic sailing vessel is undergoing a $15.9-million refit on Lunenburg's waterfront. It is expected to return to the water in early July, though no public sailing is scheduled for this year.

Lunenburg Mayor Laurence Mawhinney and Counc. Jamie Myra say they want the government to be more upfront on the precise launch of the Bluenose II so the region can capitalize on possible tourism benefits.

"I think that there is an opportunity here but it won't really be fully realized unless there's a bit of lead time for that world community who wishes to come to Nova Scotia," Mawhinney said.

"It can't be something that's simply announced as going to happen in another week or even two weeks. There should be more lead time in our view before the actual event takes place."

Myra echoed that concern, saying the launch is an opportunity to garner international attention if it is given more promotion.

"This has the ability to have great economic benefits to the whole province of Nova Scotia, if not the eastern part of Canada," he said.

"How can they come if they only find out two weeks in advance when it's going to be?"

Provincial Heritage Minister Leonard Preyra said he spoke with the mayor later Wednesday to assure him that the government wasn't trying to be secretive on the launch date — it simply doesn't know when it will happen.

"He'll know when we know," Preyra said in an interview. "At the moment, we don't know and in large part we are working with the builders to try to get this job finished."

Preyra said the schooner will launch by the end of the summer, but they don't want to set a date and not meet it.

The government also issued a statement Wednesday saying work crews would begin removing the temporary shelter housing the Bluenose II on Thursday. It also said details of the launch will be announced later this month.

The original Bluenose was built in 1921.

Bluenose II was built in 1963 and transferred to the province in 1971.

(CKBW, The Canadian Press)