$5.25M deal signed with St-Pierre-Miquelon to renovate Fortune wharf
French collectivity will pay port authority to help expand wharf to allow vehicle traffic on new ferries
St-Pierre-Miquelon has agreed to pay the Fortune Port Authority $525,000 a year for 10 years to expand the dock and the Canada Border Services Agency building in Fortune, N.L.
St-Pierre-Miquelon's president, Stéphane Lenormand, said the new deal is a "win-win partnership" that will allow vehicles to finally board the French collectivity's two new ferries.
For more than a year, the Suroît and the Nordet, two vessels purchased by St-Pierre-Miquelon for more than $50 million, haven't been able to transport cars or trucks because the wharf in Fortune isn't equipped to handle vehicle traffic.
"The agreement allows the port authority the certainty that we'll be operating our two ferries out of the port in Fortune and the necessary revenue to be able to able to balance their budget and complete the renovations," Lenormand said in French.
The federal government and port authority each pledged $1 million for the project, while the provincial government put forward $500,000. St-Pierre-Miquelon already pays about $300,000 a year to the port authority.
Lenormand said he hopes the new deal increases tourist traffic to the tiny French archipelago.
"We're betting on expanding and developing the amount of people visiting. For the past two or three years, we've been working on our marketing to tourists," Lenormand said.
"The goal for us is simple. There are about 500,000 to 550,000 tourists who visit Newfoundland and Labrador every year. If we could lure just four or five per cent of them [to St-Pierre-Miquelon], we'd be over the moon."
Work to start in coming weeks
Lenormand said he thinks the new agreement will also help make St-Pierre-Miquelon more accessible and lead to new cultural and sporting exchanges with Newfoundland.
Earl Rose, the president of the Fortune Port Authority, said contractor Dynamic Construction should begin construction in the next few weeks.
Rose told Radio-Canada on Monday that since the deal with St-Pierre-Miquelon was signed, the Canada Border Services Agency had indicated a new parking area needed to be built in Fortune to accommodate the influx of vehicle traffic. But he later said that was a misunderstanding with the agency.
Lenormand said he hopes the agreement will mean vehicles can board ferries between Fortune and St-Pierre-Miquelon by the beginning of 2020. The Nordet and the Suroît can each carry 200 passengers, 15 cars and three transport trucks.