New St-Pierre-Miquelon ferries hit a dead end in Fortune
More than a million dollars still needed for dock upgrades to offload cars and trucks
The president of St-Pierre-Miquelon is calling on Newfoundland and Labrador to get its act together.
The French territory off Newfoundland's south coast has spent tens of millions of dollars on two new ferries that can carry cars and trucks, but there's a problem on the Newfoundland end of the ferry run.
The port of call for the new vessels in Fortune, Newfoundland, doesn't have the infrastructure in place to offload vehicles.
President Stéphane Lenormand was in Newfoundland recently to meet with officials in Fortune and St. John's.
"We are here for a simple reason. For many years we have made large investments in our tourism industry and we want to create a partnership with Newfoundland and Labrador," he said.
The French territory has spent more than $50 million on two new ferries, the Nordet and the Suroît, and the necessary infrastructure to operate them.
The new vessels arrived in St-Pierre-Miquelon late last year.
The old ferry from the French islands to Newfoundland was strictly a passenger vessel, but the new 55-metre ferries can carry up to 15 cars and three transport trucks each.
So far Fortune is not ready to offload those vehicles.
Fortune port needs money
The Fortune Port Corporation owns the port infrastructure. On Friday, the corporation's president, Earl Rose, said the upgrades will cost about $3.5 million.
Rose said the corporation has secured about $2 million from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and the province, but that leaves the corporation $1.5 million short.
Rose met with Lenormand and other French officials last Thursday. He said the meeting went well but he couldn't comment further because the corporation is in "negotiations" with St-Pierre-Miquelon.
St-Pierre and Miquelon banking on Fortune
As for the French territory it says it has already invested heavily in the ferries that it believes will benefit both Newfoundland and St-Pierre-Miquelon and it's hopeful Newfoundland and Labrador and Canada will find the money needed to upgrade the port in Fortune.
Fortune has been St-Pierre-Miquelon's long-standing partner.- St-Pierre and Miquelon spokesperson
When asked if the French territory will consider docking in another port if Fortune can't accommodate its new vessels, French officials responded that:
"Fortune has been St-Pierre-Miquelon's long-standing partner. It's the closest port and we have many connections with Fortune," wrote a spokesperson for the French territory.
Lenormand met with Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation Minister Christopher Mitchelmore in late April
His department sent CBC News this statement:
"The provincial government understands and supports the economic development opportunities associated with the new ferries for St-Pierre-Miquelon and we continue to work with the Fortune Port Corporation to look at financing options for required infrastructure upgrades."
Lenormand says that the new French ferries are scheduled to begin operating, transporting passengers only to Fortune, after May 15.