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Bay Ferries cancels bookings for N.S. to Maine service through mid-July

The CAT, a high-speed passenger ferry, departs Yarmouth, N.S., heading to Portland, Maine, on June 15, 2016.
The CAT, a high-speed passenger ferry, departs Yarmouth, N.S., heading to Portland, Maine, on June 15, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

The 2019 sailing season for the ferry between Yarmouth, N.S., and Bar Harbor, Maine, got even shorter on Friday, with the company behind the service cancelling all reservations prior to and including July 18.

Bay Ferries Ltd., said on Tuesday that the earliest date that the ferry service — also known as the CAT — could begin is “mid-summer.”

“Bay Ferries Limited deeply regrets any inconvenience caused to our customers and impacts on our partners and hospitality industry,” the company wrote in a press release.

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The decision comes only days after Geoff MacLellan, Nova Scotia’s business minister, admitted that it was now an open question whether the provincially subsidized service would run this summer.

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MacLellan says U.S. officials have only told the province they will complete their requirement process as soon as they can.

The company has pointed to a number of reasons for the delay, including the “complexity of the construction and approvals process associated with the renovation of the Bar Harbor ferry terminal.”

Other factors are cited, including the U.S. government shutdown and delays in the terminal land transfer process.

Bay Ferries has said construction of the marine side of the project is on time but there are delays on land, where the company is involved in building a ferry terminal that will house U.S. Customs and Border Patrol facilities.

The CAT is operated by Bay Ferries as part of a 10-year deal with the Nova Scotia government made back in 2016.

The province has committed an estimated $8.5 million to help with the renovation work and the ferry’s operating subsidy for this year is expected to be $13.8 million.

WATCH: Bay Ferries CEO faces questions over Bar Harbor service at Nova Scotia legislature

Bay Ferries CEO faces questions over Bar Harbor service at Nova Scotia legislature
Bay Ferries CEO faces questions over Bar Harbor service at Nova Scotia legislature

Bay Ferries said that cancelled reservations will be re-routed, if the customer wishes, to MV Fundy Rose. They say they will be making “arrangements to accommodate as many passengers as possible.”

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The province recently hired the former U.S. ambassador to Canada, David Wilkins, to lobby on behalf of the ferry in an attempt to expedite the U.S. security process.

— With files from The Canadian Press