Marine Atlantic spending millions on new office in Port aux Basques, but won't say how much

·2 min read
Marine Atlantic shared this photo of its executives and politicians Tuesday, announcing that its plan for a new office building in Port Aux Basques had been approved. (Marine Atlantic/Facebook - image credit)
Marine Atlantic shared this photo of its executives and politicians Tuesday, announcing that its plan for a new office building in Port Aux Basques had been approved. (Marine Atlantic/Facebook - image credit)

The Crown corporation that runs the ferry service between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia says it has the green light from Ottawa to begin construction on a new multi-million dollar administration building in Port aux Basques.

Marine Atlantic on Tuesday said the federal government had offered final approval for the new building.

In 2018 the corporation acquired land in the town for the office, which will replace an aging administration building it currently owns.

"There's been some problems with it through the years," said spokesperson Darrell Mercer. "The repair bill on that is adding up."

The corporation also rents three other facilities spread around Port aux Basques, but will vacate those office spaces after the new administration building, at 175 Hardy's Arterial Rd., opens. Some employees from those offices will be shuffled into the new build, according to Mercer, while others will set up shop at the ferry terminal.

"By constructing a brand-new facility, the plan there is to bring those employees together," Mercer said, solving some current logistical issues for Marine Atlantic administration.

The ferry operator would not disclose the price tag of the project, however, citing the need to first select bids for various construction contracts before it releases its estimate. "We don't want to put any of those exact numbers out, simply because it will be a competitive process," Mercer said.

"Right now, the only information that we are going to provide is that it is a multi-million dollar facility."

He also declined to comment on any spending caps for the project.

Darrell Mercer is the corporate communications manager with Marine Atlantic.
Darrell Mercer is the corporate communications manager with Marine Atlantic.(Bruce Tilley/CBC)

While architectural plans for the building aren't yet mapped out, Mercer said it would be a "21st century design" incorporating safety features for a potentially COVID-plagued future.

The building will house about 70 employees, he said.

Mercer said Marine Atlantic does not have plans for its existing facility once employees are moved into the new one.

The announcement comes a day after the ferry operator announced it would reverse fee increases that went into effect April 1.

"Marine Atlantic is rolling back the 2021 rate increase to help enable a strong return for the economy," the corporation said in a Facebook post.

"Customers who have or will travel after April 1, 2021, will receive a refund for the cost difference."

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