Nfld. & Labrador

Burin Peninsula hopes to cash in as St-Pierre-Miquelon gets new car ferries

The French islands off Newfoundland will soon be serviced by two new passenger ferries, carrying vehicles to and from St-Pierre-Miquelon.

New ferries will be delivered next month, start service next year

The Suroit, seen under construction here, is one of two new ferries coming to St-Pierre-Miquelon that can transport vehicles to and from the French islands. (Photo courtesy Damen Shipyards)

St-Pierre-Miquelon will soon be serviced by two new passenger ferries, carrying vehicles to and from the French islands off the coast of Newfoundland.

The two boats — Nordet and Suroit — will be delivered to the islands next month.

Before they go into service next year, there is work to be done in Fortune, where the current passenger ferry docks on Newfoundland's Burin Peninsula.

"It should mean a vast expansion of the tourist trade and freight traffic between here and St. Pierre," said Fortune Mayor Charles Penwell.

Charles Penwell, mayor of Fortune, says he expects the new ferries to boost tourism for the Burin Peninsula. (CBC)

There is about $5 million in wharf upgrades needed for Fortune, Penwell said — a cost to be shared between all levels of government. He expects that money to be approved.

The two new ferries will hold 200 passengers, 15 vehicles and three tractor trailers.

Penwell believes the new ferry service will mean a boost in tourism dollars, not just for Fortune and the Burin Peninsula, but the entire province.

Many residents of the French islands make the trek to Fortune to buy things that are more expensive at home in St-Pierre-Miquelon, he said.

"We see people of St. Pierre coming and going in their own boats," Penwell said. "They carry a fair amount of goods that's been bought and purchased here in Newfoundland because it's a lot cheaper here than in St. Pierre."

St-Pierre-Miquelon has a population of just more than 6,000 people. The islands are a self-governing territory of France, located 25 kilometres from the coast of Newfoundland.

The route is currently serviced by a ferry that carries passengers only, between April and December.

St-Pierre-Miquelon will soon have two new ferries that can carry 200 passengers and 15 vehicles. (Damen Shipyards)