New Blandford ferry dock will go on land purchased a week ago

·3 min read

It has been advertised as an ideal spot "to build your private estate on the shores of Mahone Bay."

But nine hectares of land purchased by the Nova Scotia government will instead be used as the mainland docking facility for the new ferry service between Blandford and the Tancook islands.

The land, with an asking price $1,999,900, and a commercial building, priced at nearly half of its assessed value of $894,000, were purchased last Friday, according to Dan Leopold, the director of fleet management for the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

Although the property listing noted "the sheer size of this property" made it "a perfect candidate for subdivision," Leopold said the seller was only interested in selling it whole.

Property belonged to company based in the Netherlands

The property belonged to Sea Farming Industries BV, a company based in the Netherlands. The company began operations in Nova Scotia in 1987, according to the registry of joint stocks.

It's unclear when the company ended operations at the Blandford location.

But in real estate images advertising the sale of the building, it appears more like a home than any commercial operation. There is bedroom and living room furniture, as well as cardboard boxes stacked in some of the rooms.

Leopold said the province would be keeping the structure "for the time being" because it's unclear how it would be used. He suggested it could be used as an office for operations.

Graphic by CBC
Graphic by CBC

The plan is to build the dock and adjacent facilities, including public washrooms, about 200 metres west of the building, where a spur of land juts out into Mahone Bay.

Transportation Minister Lloyd Hines said Wednesday his department estimated building the brand new loading and unloading facility, and upgrading docks in Little Tancook and Big Tancook would cost more than $20 million, twice the price of the new 18-vehicle ferry he announced on that day.

"I think we're in the vicinity of $33 million in total, including the ferry," he said.

Ottawa and the Nova Scotia government each will pay $4.9 million toward the construction of the ferry, designed to be roughly the same size and shape of Margaret's Justice, the vessel serving the Grand Passage on Digby Neck.

New road, parking lot

Leopold said the biggest difference would be the addition of a glassed-in viewing deck for the ferry, along with the installation of bicycle racks.

The province will also need to build a road and a parking lot on the site. The plan is to also modify the intersection where Highway 329 intersects with New Harbour and Gates Fish Plant roads.

Although there has been public consultation with residents from the islands, the province has not held similar discussions with Blandford residents.

Leopold said that was because the department concluded the creation of the new docking facility was not expected to have much of an impact on its neighbours, and an 18-vehicle ferry running 11 times a day would not put an appreciable amount of traffic on local roads.

"Nobody (in the department) is overly concerned about the amount of traffic," he said.

The tender for the ferry is expected to be released any day. The work to create the Blandford facility, as well as upgrades needed for the two existing federal docks on the islands, is expected to be ready for tender this month or next.