Nova Scotia taps new consulting firm for Yarmouth ferry review

20 September 2023 2 min. read

The Nova Scotia government has selected 21FSP, a Halifax-based consultancy that launched earlier this year, to conduct an economic analysis of the ferry that runs from Yarmouth to Bar Harbor, Maine.

21FSP was selected from 16 companies that submitted bids. It was the low bid from the two companies that made it to the second round of evaluation.

The consultancy will be paid approximately $180,000 to deliver a report by fall 2024. The report will determine whether the Maine ferry boosts businesses, job creation, and tax revenues in the province.

Liberal opposition leader Zach Churchill thinks the 21FSP report will be used to justify the province’s future cancellation of the ferry service.

“I don't have confidence in this process and I'm worried that the fix is in on the international ferry to Yarmouth," Churchill, the MLA for Yarmouth, told reporters last Wednesday. “You're telling me that out of all the applicants they've gotten to do a consulting report on this they picked one that nobody's heard about?"Nova Scotia taps new consulting firm for Yarmouth ferry review Founded earlier this summer, 21FSP’s principals are Tom McGuire and Ron L’Esperance, who together co-founded consulting firm Group ATN. Their previous consulting firm was acquired in 2019 by M5 Group of Companies, a marketing and communications firm.

Group ATN was founded in 2010 and provided services to public and private sectors, Indigenous communities, and NGOs, with a specialization in tourism analysis, communications, and marketing.

L’Esperance was previously a deputy minister in the provincial government. McGuire was previously a senior economist at ATi Consulting.

Kim Masland, minister for public works, disputed that the government has already made its decision on the ferry issue, telling reporters the consultancy’s study will help determine if the ferry is a good investment for the province.

“This study is not just going to focus on what the service delivers to southwest Nova, this is going to focus on what this delivers to us as a province and I believe that Nova Scotians deserve to know that," Masland said.

Unlike Nova Scotia’s ferries to PEI and Newfoundland, the Yarmouth-Maine ferry does not receive federal funding. The ferry – which runs from May to October – received a $17.6 million subsidy from the province for last year’s season.

The ferry has sold 38,655 tickets this year as of September 11 – up 2,000 tickets over last season.