Nova Scotia has permanently removed the travel fees for all provincial ferries after they were suspended last March due to the pandemic.
The announcement was made by Premier Iain Rankin at the Englishtown ferry terminal on Saturday morning.
Rankin said the change will make transportation more "affordable and accessible for Nova Scotians."
Speaking at the event, Transportation Minister Lloyd Hines said ferry fees only covered 10 per cent of the operating costs.
According to Hines, the system to collect fees wasn't efficient and posed administrative challenges.
"Handling a significant amount of cash, which this ferry does in particular, was difficult because once we get that cash, we have to handle it," he said.
Hines said the Englishtown ferry alone was used by 250,000 people every year, making it the busiest ferry in the provincial fleet.
He said eliminating the ferry fees would make travel within the province less cumbersome.
"Removing the fees removes a barrier to tourism in Nova Scotia. It enhances our active transportation file and it helps our entire highway system across the province," Hines said.
There are seven provincial ferries in Nova Scotia:
LaHave in Lunenburg County.
Country Harbour in Guysborough County.
Little Narrows in Victoria County.
Englishtown in Victoria County.
Tancook Islands in Lunenburg County.
Petit Passage in Digby County.
Grand Passage in Digby County.
Ferry fees ranged from $7 for cars and light trucks to $10 for commercial trucks.
There are usually about one million ferry passengers per year, which totals about $1.3 million in fees.
The operating cost for provincial ferries is about $10.7 million a year.
According to Hines, ferry fees were not counted in the province's forecast for this year and their removal would have no impact on the budget.
The minister said none of the 100 people employed by the ferry system would be affected by the change.
On Saturday, the province also announced it would invest $3 million for the redesign and upgrade of Charlotte Street in downtown Sydney. The municipality will contribute an equal amount to to the project.
According to a news release, the investment is expected to create a more "welcoming, accessible and green destination."
"The area is being re-energized with a new NSCC Marconi Campus and a second cruise ship berth at the Port of Sydney, and this project will help enhance its marketing position to draw in more residents and visitors and stimulate growth in the local economy," Rankin said in the release.
Work on the project is expected to begin next April.
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