News: Transportation Minister Tours Marine Atlantic Building

January 2, 2015- Daily Business Buzz

[North Sydney, NS] — It's an active construction site, but workers cleared a path for federal Transportation Minister Lisa Raitt's tour of Marine Atlantic's new terminal building in North Sydney (Nova Scotia) on Monday (Dec. 29).

"I really like seeing places when they are coming together," she said.

"This is a great opportunity to see the bones of the building, to see where security and operations are going to fit in."

Raitt said part of the reason for the upgrades is to make sure Marine Atlantic is current with international safety regulations, and to ensure the passengers are kept as safe as possible.

"It's great to see the planning, I love the local content and it's great to see Marine Atlantic bringing this project to fruition."

The new terminal, which is expected to be open in the spring, is designed with the environment and efficiency in mind, and a focus on securing a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification.

"There was a lot of work done between Marine Atlantic and local representatives who wanted to ensure the town was included as part of Marine Atlantic," said Raitt. "Marine Atlantic is part of the municipality and part of downtown North Sydney."

Marine Atlantic provides year-round service between North Sydney and Port aux Basques, N.L., and seasonally between North Sydney and Argentia, N.L.

"This is all about our customers. It's all about providing better service and for us better service comes down to being safe, reliable and efficient," said Marine Atlantic president and CEO Paul Griffin.

Griffin said the first thing people will notice when they enter the building is that space is configured around customer needs.

"We have adequate seating space for folks while they are waiting for a vessel to depart, we have a dedicated commercial customers lounge, and the building is fully accessible."

Griffin said from the outset Marine Atlantic has had co-operative interaction with downtown businesses.

"The new building is much closer to the downtown for our customers. They have accessibility to all of the businesses and eating establishments, and the reaction has been really positive."

The present terminal will be torn down and the space will be converted in to marshalling yard, providing additional space for commercial and passenger traffic.

Griffin said traffic volumes ebb and flow with the economy of Newfoundland.

"The economy is down a bit, so our traffic is down a very small percentage," he said. "I think anything we do to improve the reliability of our service and make our service a more positive experience for the customer base will naturally attract people to the service."

Cape Breton Regional Municipality Mayor Cecil Clarke said access to the downtown area is important for both Marine Atlantic's customers and employees.

"Marine Atlantic stepped up to the plate, now the community has to step up and make sure there are food and tourist opportunities," Clarke said. "We are going work with our businesses and citizens to take advantage of this."

Referring to the overall development of the port of Sydney, and Marine Atlantic's long-term investment in the ferry service, Clarke said the municipality will be working on trade efforts with Newfoundland and Labrador in the coming year to grow those opportunities.

Ferry facts

• Marine Atlantic's new terminal expected to open in the spring

• Includes a trucker's lounge with dedicated seating area, showers and washroom facilities

• A dedicated staff lounge

• Features a rumble strip (corrugated tile) to help people with impairments

• Playroom for children

• The approximately $20-million project has been consistently on schedule and on budget

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