Following the close of consultation on the future of the Balfour inland ferry terminal, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure will continue to do further work on the community’s preferred option, which is to retain the terminal at Balfour.
“We presented options to the community, and residents of Balfour and the Queens Bay area overwhelmingly supported the terminal remaining in its present location,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone. “We know there are challenges with keeping the terminal at Balfour. However, as a result of what we heard, we will focus on doing the technical analysis and work to retain the terminal at Balfour, including the potential dredging of the west arm.”
The challenges that need to be addressed at the existing terminal include the narrow channel and shallow lakebed. In addition, safety improvements may have to be made at the terminal to eliminate conflicts between highway and ferry traffic. Further, to maintain the current service levels, the second vessel, the MV Balfour, will have to be replaced.
The ministry received more than 2,600 online and mailed submissions (survey questionnaires, emails and postcards) during the public consultation, held between June 15 and Oct. 6, 2016. In addition, over 300 people attended the open house at Redfish Elementary school on June 15.
Members of the public from communities surrounding Kootenay Lake, business operators in Balfour, Queens Bay residents, local public-safety and community organizations all took the opportunity to express their views. A summary of the consultation will be available this fall.
Ferry service on Kootenay Lake currently operates between Balfour on the west side and Kootenay Bay on the east side. The distance is about nine kilometres, with a crossing time of about 35 minutes. The MV Osprey provides year round service with the MV Balfour supplementing summer service. The Balfour ferry terminal has been in place since 1947.
The Government of British Columbia invests approximately $29 million annually into operation of its 14 inland ferry routes.