The Provincial Government currently operates five
contracted ferry services serving isolated communities along the South
Coast of the island and one on the South Coast of Labrador.
Given the age of the vessels currently in operation,
it is clear that the time has come to upgrade these essential services
for what can truly be considered some of our most rural communities. In
this year's budget speech, our government announced that it was
proceeding with the construction of six new ferries to replace the aging
vessels currently serving these communities — and that these vessels
would be built right here in Newfoundland and Labrador.
I am pleased to inform this Honourable House that in
the coming days, my department will be issuing a request for expressions
of interest from qualified firms for the provision of a detailed design
for these new vessels.
We are seeking a standard design that can be used on
all six runs and which will provide an enhanced travel experience for
both residents and visitors. The new vessels will be designed to provide
improved passenger amenities and follow the Canadian Transportation
Agency guidelines for Ferry Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities.
Expressions of interest must be received by the
department by July 15, 2010, at which time we will begin the process of
selecting a firm to complete the detailed design. Once a firm has been
selected, we expect the design process to take approximately one year.
Over the coming months we will determine the method by which shipyards
will be selected to undertake construction of these vessels after the
final design has been completed.
The construction of these ferries will mean a better
and more reliable service for those who use them and provide
opportunities for our province's shipbuilding and marine services
With this latest step, our government is now engaged
in various stages of work towards the completion of ten new vessels for
the provincial service. In addition to seeking a design for these six
smaller ferries, we have two medium-size vessels currently under
construction, the propulsion system for a third medium—size ferry has
been purchased and a consultant is currently designing a fourth larger
ferry to replace the MV Captain Earl W. Winsor for the Fogo
Island-Change Islands run.
Our government has, time and again, demonstrated its
commitment to rural Newfoundland and Labrador and to the replacement of
our aging ferry fleet and this is another great example of that
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