11/07/2013 12:42 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 10:53 EST

Relaunch of Yarmouth ferry service in a 'time crunch,' says Nova Scotia minister

HALIFAX - Nova Scotia's economic development minister says he's hopeful a ferry service will be up and running between Yarmouth and Maine by next spring as planned, but Michel Samson admits the project is in a "time crunch."

A deal to resume the ferry link was announced in September by the previous NDP government nearly four years after it scrapped a subsidy for the money-losing service.

At the time, the government said STM Quest, a joint venture between U.S.-based companies ST Marine and Quest Navigation, had agreed to run a daily service from Yarmouth to Portland from May 1 until Oct. 31.

Samson said the government is still waiting on the company to confirm that it has met all the conditions of the deal set out by the province.

Under the deal, the province would provide the company with a $21-million fully forgivable loan over seven years.

Of that, $10.5 million would go towards startup costs in the first year with another $1.5 million set aside annually for marketing.