Nfld. & Labrador

Francois running low on supplies as ferry out of service

The small community on Newfoundland's south coast has not seen a full freight delivery since June 17, according to Christine Durnford, as the MV Marine Voyager — which normally services the town — is out for maintenance, and fog has allowed limited helicopter service.
The small community of Francois has been without regular ferry service since June 17. (CBC)

The 80-odd residents of Francois are running low on gas and food, says a local woman, as the regular ferry service has been interrupted for more than a week.

The small community on Newfoundland's south coast has not seen a full freight delivery since June 17, according to Christine Durnford, as the MV Marine Voyager — which normally services the town — is out for maintenance, and fog has allowed limited helicopter service.

Durnofrd said that means two shipments of gas, food and milk have been missed.

"Last week, we ran out of fresh milk and eggs and produce and bread," she told CBC Radio's On the Go on Monday. 

"Everything's important, but that kind of stuff is moreso important."

The provincial government has provided a helicopter to transport people and urgent supplies like prescriptions. But it's been grounded by fog several times over the week, and can't carry much food. 

Representatives from the Department of Transportation and Works have not responded to requests for comment initially sent Friday, but their website shows helicopter service suspended by fog as of Monday night. 

Waiting for a ferry

Durnford said the town's been told the boat is scheduled to return on Tuesday evening. But she can not figure out why they've been waiting so long for help.

She said the ferry has broken down before, but the province usually sends the MV Gallipoli — which operates nearby — to make additional trips to the community to transport essentials. That's not happening this time. 

The MV Marine Voyager is expected back in Francois on Tuesday evening. ((Government of Newfoundland and Labrador))

The delay means there's not enough fuel for local fisherman to go out to sea, said Durnford.

"We can't understand why that happened," ​she said. "We haven't had mail since last Monday, and to me I think that's very unfair." 

'We're taxpayers, we're people'

Durnford said the crew of the Gallipoli is willing to make the trip, but the province isn't willing to fund it.

Durnford said the response is making her feel like a second class citizen — especially suggestions from other Newfoundland residents that her town should just be relocated, or should not expect any help.

"We're taxpayers, we're people," she said. " We feel like we're just a name on a map, and everybody's laughing at us."

Durnford said it's just as fair to ask why anyone would want to live in St. John's,  where there's all kinds of crime.  

"I know that's being said, people say 'well, time to move them out, time to leave, they're only trouble anyway.' That's not fair to us. And that question gets asked a lot of times," she said.

"We live here because we want to live here." 

With files from On the Go

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