Nfld. & Labrador

St. Anthony wants to bring in larger ships — once it removes 'Harbour Rock'

Spending $1.5 million to get rid of a rock in St. Anthony harbour is worth it, says the mayor, who hopes this will allow for larger ships to visit.

Dredging and removal of rock will cost $1.5M, but could make town hub for Arctic vessels

Harbour Rock, seen in the lower right, will cost about $1.5 million to remove, says the mayor of St. Anthony. (Chris Patey)

St. Anthony is hoping to turn itself into an even busier hub for marine activity, once it removes a large rock in its harbour.

St. Anthony Mayor Ern Simms, who also chairs the town's harbour authority, says some larger ships can't dock in the town due to what is known locally as Harbour Rock.

"There's a buoy on it and it's been there since the harbour was formed, and it's been an impediment," said Simms.

St. Anthony harbour will be able to accommodate larger vessels once Harbour Rock is dredged and removed. (CBC)

"Now that we're getting bigger ships coming to this area, that presents a little bit of a problem there with the conditions and also with the depth and width of the harbour."

No doubt about it, this is a bit of good news for us. We're starting to see things come our way.- St. Anthony Mayor Ern Simms

Simms said a combination of money from the provincial and federal governments — as well as town council, the harbour authority, and St. Anthony Basin Resources — totalling around $1.5 million will help solve that problem.

St. Anthony Basin Resources has a 20- to 25-year contract with shipping company Eimskip, which stops in St. Anthony as one of only five North American ports.

Simms said the company is hoping to put larger ships on the route once the rock is removed.

St. Anthony Mayor Ern Simms says the cost of the dredging will mean more opportunities for the town. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

According to Simms, Harbour Rock has been limiting the number of ships that are able to visit St. Anthony. He said the dredging will mean more opportunity.

"The ships that are travelling through the Arctic are going to require a last post to stop and top up or whatever the case might be, so we're looking at becoming that," he told CBC's Corner Brook Morning Show.

"No doubt about it, this is a bit of good news for us. We're starting to see things come our way."

The town and harbour authority have been looking to get money to do the work for years. Now that it's been approved, Simms said work can get underway, and he's hoping it will be done within four months.

Shipping company Eimskip visits St. Anthony harbour about once every three weeks. It hopes to put larger ships on the route once dredging is completed. (Town of St. Anthony)

"This will all be done by dredging, of course, and hopefully we'll get it all taken care of before the season's over this year and hopefully before the fishing season really gets off to a big run."

Business at the harbour has been good, but Simms said once the dredging is done it will be even better.

"This has been a real success story for St. Anthony and a real challenge starting out, but we've come a long way with regards to local business, regards to refuellers, companies from out of town that come here and also construction and servicing," he said.

"It's continuous here with regards to the cruise ship industry, with regards to container ships and the offshore — it's all tied up with this."