‘It changes everything for us’: Cat ferry to make first sailing in three years Thursday

It’s taken the Cat ferry three years to return to service between Yarmouth, NS, and Maine in the United States.

In that time, taxpayers have continued to pay millions for the vessel.

On the eve of the ferry’s first crossing since its closure, there is an excitement in the Nova Scotia town.

“It changes everything for us,” says Yarmouth Mayor Pam Mood.

A lack of a terminal in Bar Harbor, Maine in 2019, followed by two years of the pandemic, kept the Cat away. Some say the effect on the town was devastating.

“Downward spiral would be an understatement. So people are moving west to get any type of work, shops are closing, and families are gone,” said Mood.

But the tide seems to be turning, as businesses in the town reopen and people return.

“We don’t want to see this ferry go away and lose that link to America,” said Alex Guibord, who recently moved to Yarmouth to open an inn.

“We love being an international border with a ferry and all the opportunities that come with that.”

The ship’s return is also good news for Jeff Bain, the co-owner of a brewery around the corner from the ferry terminal.

Some of his product will be sold on-board, but Bain says he hopes tourists will soon be filling seats at the bar.

“We rely on tourist traffic during the summer to fill the days,” said Bain. “We’ve got great local support at night and on weekends, but tourist support during the day really drives some traffic through here.”

The director of the Yarmouth and Acadian Shores Tourism Association says he’s confident that traffic will come.

“Certainly we are getting interest from people who are coming across, looking for recommendations on places to stay,” said Neil Mackenzie.

The ferry’s schedule is working in the town’s favour. Early morning departures coupled with an evening arrival mean its likely passengers will be overnighting in the town on both ends of their journey.

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