The Ontario government is moving forward with plans to build a new $40 million ferry to service Pelee Island.

The province has awarded a contract for a new ferry that will help transport the more than 60,000 visitors and residents that travel to the island each year.

ASENAV, a ship-building company located in Valdivia, Chile, was awarded the contract, valued at $40 million.

The new ferry will replace the M.V. Pelee Islander, which is 55 years old and has capacity for 196 passengers and 10 vehicles.

The M.V. Jiimaan, in operation since 1992, will also continue to service Pelee Island with capacity for 399 passengers and 35 automobiles.

The new ferry will be able to carry a maximum of 399 passengers and either 34 cars, or 16 cars and four tractor trailers.

It is expected to start operating in 2018 and will service the existing docks at Pelee Island, Leamington and Kingsville.