Apollo fights through pack ice to St. Barbe

Province activates Air Foodlift Subsidy for South Coast

Ashley Fitzpatrick afitzpatrick@thetelegram.com
Published on April 12, 2012
MV Apollo, Strait of Belle Isle ferry, owned by Woodward Group of Companies. — Photo by Gary Hebbard/The Telegram

The ferry MV Apollo made its way to Blanc Sablon Wednesday, according to Labrador Marine’s vessel update, after the boat spent almost a week off its Labrador-Island run. The boat was scheduled to head back for St. Barbe at 5 p.m.

Ice in the Strait of Belle Isle had prevented the ferry from making crossings on its run, beginning Thursday, Apr. 5.

The ship made an attempt Sunday. It left St. Barbe, but had to turn around when it encountered packed-in ice about six miles outside of Blanc Sablon — roughly halfway across the Strait.

As a result of the difficulties, the provincial government activated the Air Foodlift Subsidy (AFS) Program for the South Coast and Straits of Labrador.

The subsidy provides help for retailers left to rely on air freight to bring needed, perishable food items in for isolated areas. The program is administered by Labrador Affairs.

Businesses in coastal communities including Nain, Natuashish, Hopedale, Makkovik, Postville, Rigolet, Black Tickle and Williams Harbour are eligible for the program regardless.

However, the program kicks in for businesses along the South Coast of Labrador when “there is an extended continuous interruption in marine service due to mechanical or weather delays, or prolonged road closures on the Trans-Labrador Highway,” according to the provincial government.

The interruption must typically last five days for the subsidy to kick in.

“As of Monday, April 9, retailers on the South Coast-Straits of Labrador are eligible to take part in the program,” a government news release stated.

It will remain in effect for five days after the Apollo returns to scheduled crossings.

Some changes to the provincial Air Foodlift Subsidy Program were made in 2011, to help it act more effectively in sync with the federal Nutrition North Canada program. Those changes, including changes to the list of eligible food items covered, are detailed on the provincial government’s website and are being monitored for a one-year trial period.

According to the province, retailers looking for more information can call Jeannine Chaulk Moores at 709-896-1780.