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New Ferry Up for Approval; delivery in April 2014

An item on todays HRM Council agenda is the Approval of the Tender for the Construction of a 4th Harbour ferry. The lowest (only) bidder meeting specifications was A.F. Theriault & Son Ltd., for Total Tender Price of $ 4,158,299.96

Metro Transit currently operates three passenger ferries (Dartmouth III, Halifax III and Woodside I). A fourth passenger ferry has been identified as a priority investment to improve the harbour ferry service between Woodside and Downtown Halifax. The fourth ferry is also recommended in the Council approved Metro Transit Five Year Strategic Operations Plan, and further recommended in the Strategic Ferry Operations Plan. This ferry will permit Metro Transit to double the peak hour service and add new off peak service on the Woodside route; these service improvements cannot be achieved with three vessels.

Tenders were publically advertised on the Province of Nova Scotia website and closed on February 22,2013.Representatives from four(4) Nova Scotia shipyards attended the Bidders Conference, but only one(1)bid was received.The other attendees to the meeting were contacted and cited a lack of capacity at present. The Likely included Abco of Lunenburg, and Pictou Industries Ltd (who built the previous 3 ferries) A.F. Theriault and Son Ltd. will commence work on notification of award, with an anticipated delivery date of April 1, 2014. The Drawings and Engineering will be done by E.Y.E Marine Consultants, who designed and managed construction on the previous 3 vessels.

Buried in an Appendix at the end of the documentation sent to Council, is a note that the existing ferries were constructed in 1978 (Dartmouth III, Halifax III) and 1986 (Woodside I) and will soon approach the end of their economic lifespan. The 4th Ferry is viewed as the initial step in a new build programme, Metro Transit therefore requires a new ferry design to serve as the foundation for recapitalization of the current fleet and an additional vessel for the Woodside service. HRM, after the 4th ferry is built, will have 4.9 million remaining in Ferry reserve fund, enough for another boat.

Approval today is all but assured, as the Voith Schnider drives have already been approved, and ordered.

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Peter Ziobrowski

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