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Nova Scotia may seek to extend CAT ferry’s sailing season

The CAT, a high-speed passenger ferry, passes the Cape Forchu Lighthouse as it departs Yarmouth, N.S. heading to Portland, Maine on its first scheduled trip on Wednesday, June 15, 2016. The Canadian Press/Andrew Vaughan

Nova Scotia’s transportation and infrastructure minister told media on Thursday that the province may seek to extend the sailing season of the ferry service between Yarmouth, N.S. and Bar Harbor, Maine, giving Bay Ferries Ltd., a chance to “work out the kinks.”

The news comes amid questions whether the service, known as the CAT Ferry, will run this year.

READ MORE: Bay Ferries says Yarmouth service to start up in ‘late summer range’

The service was set to begin on June 21, but Bay Ferries said earlier this month that due to construction and related approval processes at the Bar Harbor terminal, the date to resume service had to be pushed back indefinitely.

Lloyd Hines told media on Tuesday that the province has been floating the idea to add “a couple of weeks” to the end of the regular sailing season.

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Last year the ferry ran between Yarmouth and Portland, Maine, and the season ended Oct. 8.

WATCH: No guarantee Yarmouth ferry will sail to Bar Harbor this season

Click to play video: 'No guarantee Yarmouth ferry will sail to Bar Harbor this season' No guarantee Yarmouth ferry will sail to Bar Harbor this season
No guarantee Yarmouth ferry will sail to Bar Harbor this season – Jun 20, 2019

Hines said that the province is committed to doing “everything” they can to save the sailing season.

He confirmed that the ferry made its maiden voyage to Bar Harbor earlier this week, testing the facility and ensuring that the ramps will work.

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

He said the terminal is about 95 per cent is done but that the final pieces still need to be completed — including a dispute over the square footage requirements of the facility by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

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“[CBP] has taken the position that they want 100 per cent compliance in the facility before they permit any activity in the facility,” said Hines on Thursday.

“There’s no doubt that there will be an inevitability that we will be able to offer the service… obviously we want to get it in place for this season while they’re saying they need more time.”

— With files from Dexter Nyuurnibe

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