More information about the Proposed Ferry Move

Posted on
July 4, 2016 by

The Balfour Ferry Business Coalition and Queens Bay Residents Association have set up some information websites for people with questions about the proposed relocation of the Balfour Ferry terminal.
http://www.choosebalfour.com/

The Ministry website is here:
http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/transportation/transportation-infrastructure/projects/balfour-ferry-terminal

The Balfour & District Business & Historic Association sent the following letter to the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, Todd Stone:

July 1, 2016

To the Honorable Todd Stone
Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure

Dear Minister Stone,
On behalf of the Balfour and District Business and Historic Association, I would like to thank the Balfour Ferry Technical Team for including us in a separate meeting regarding the plan to possibly relocate the western terminal of the Kootenay Lake ferry. As with the meeting with the businesses earlier in the day, it was at times very passionate. The Kootenay Lake ferries are an important part of our community’s cultural, historic, and economic identity, and the decision regarding the fate of the terminal in Balfour is one that will affect Balfour and Queens Bay residents both now and in the decades to come; it is an therefore an issue that is complicated by many considerations.

We understand that the process includes many more steps, that this was a high level feasibility study, and that there is a need for additional data which will be forthcoming over the next while. However, as we expressed in our original letter regarding the possible move, our Association and its members still have concerns over what will be left behind should the Balfour operation be decommissioned. The presented report mentions decommissioning the existing facility but there wasn’t a budgeted figure mentioned, a time line for completion discussed, or a plan for community consultation as to the redevelopment of the current industrial site.

In the reply you sent to our original letter you mentioned that construction jobs would be created, and that a new terminal could bring new infrastructure to the area. This is true, but the present location has offered jobs for over 68 years in comparison to the three year planned construction period, and we feel that the current infrastructure can also be renewed in its present location. The feasibility study does not, in our opinion, adequately address options around maintaining the ferry service in Balfour with improvements to the current infrastructure.

Discussions with our Regional Director have given light to the possibility of new electric technology used on ferries elsewhere in the world. Perhaps the cost associated with the building of a new ferry could be part of Canada’s contribution to action on climate change, and funding could be available from these sources. Is there funding from the carbon taxes for these types of projects?

I have refrained from challenging your proposal, but I believe that alternatives are available. Our association represents the majority of the businesses in Balfour and the surrounding area, and we would like to work with the Ministry towards finding alternatives that will not negatively affect our unique economic and cultural values based around the existing terminal. We believe that improving the ferry terminal at Balfour and maintaining the service based here can be part of a larger solution to all your problems. All we need is time and the will to do so.

Again, Minister Stone, kindly look at other alternatives that may satisfy the financial burden this project places on the Ministry, and take into consideration the long term effect this will have on the business community and the community’s overall identity. The Kootenay Lake ferry is known as the “longest free ferry ride in the world”, and whether that description is accurate or not, this ferry trip is the primary attraction and enhances all the other tourist experiences, which in turn drives the economy of the region.

Sincerely,

Randy Zelonka, President
Balfour & District Business & Historic Association

Cc Balfour Ferry Technical Team
RDCK Area ‘E’ Director, Ramona Faust
MLA Michelle Mungall
MP Wayne Stetski
Members, Balfour & District Business & Historic Association

The deadline for public input is JULY 6 2016