Heddle to build new ferry for Ontario island service

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(HAMILTON, Ontario) ― The Ontario government is investing $3.3 million in a new ferry for the Simcoe Island community to ensure residents and visitors have reliable access to the island, and more opportunities to participate in the regional economy. The ferry will be built by Heddle Shipyards in Hamilton and will help support up to 24 local jobs during construction.

“By delivering a brand-new, made-in-Ontario ferry for Simcoe Island, our government is fulfilling its promise to deliver transportation that the island community needs,” said Caroline Mulroney, minister of transportation. “Building this new ferry in Hamilton will also drive regional economic growth and support good local jobs. Our province takes pride in its skilled workers, and we are excited to see the build and fulfillment of this vessel by Heddle Shipyards.”

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Heddle’s facility in Hamilton, Ontario. Heddle Shipyards photo

The building of the Simcoe Island ferry will also spur economic growth in the region by contributing approximately $2 million of real GDP in the shipbuilding and supply-chain industries in 2021-22 alone, with further benefits to be realized as the project progresses.

“Heddle Shipyards is extremely grateful to Minister Mulroney and the Ontario government for their commitment to shipbuilding in this province,” said Shaun Padulo, president of Heddle Shipyards. “The Simcoe Island ferry newbuild project will create and sustain skilled trades jobs here at our Hamilton shipyard and is a critical step in rebuilding the capacity of Ontario shipyards. With the support of the provincial government, we will bring shipbuilding back to Ontario.”

The new ferry, which is expected to be in service by late 2022, will allow for the transport of up to three times more vehicles than the current ferry. The new vessel will also be able to carry larger service vehicles, such as fire trucks and vehicles required for maintaining roads and infrastructure.

The province will pay the total cost of the new Simcoe Island ferry and the township of Frontenac Islands will be responsible for operating its service.

Quick facts

• The Simcoe Island ferry is a cable ferry that operates between Simcoe Island and Wolfe Island in the spring, summer and autumn. The current vessel was first launched in 1963.
• The township of Frontenac Islands employs three full-time and two part-time staff to operate the ferry.
• In 2019-20, the province provided $270,000 in funding – through the Municipal Ferries Program – to the township of Frontenac Islands to help support the operation of ferry service to Simcoe Island.
• The province has also invested in two new, larger hybrid-electric ferries – Wolfe Islander IV and Amherst Islander II – that will provide improved service to Wolfe Island and Amherst Island once they go into service in spring 2022.

– Government of Ontario

By Professional Mariner Staff