The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is moving ahead with plans to ensure continued safe operation of the Kootenay Lake ferry.
The ministry is also planning changes to ensure the service meets the needs of ferry users, the community and visitors to the area.
Following a consultation process in 2016 with Balfour and area residents, government determined the terminal should remain at Balfour. The ministry will be seeking local input on possible longer-term improvements to terminal amenities, such as green space, washrooms, on-site parking and safety of traffic queues.
During the 2016 consultations, residents of Balfour, Queens Bay and area were also informed about the challenges facing the ongoing operation of the Kootenay Lake ferry service, including the actions needed to mitigate low water levels.
Beginning in late February, the ministry will implement temporary service changes to ensure safe ferry passage during lower water. During the last week of March and the first week of April, when the lake level is historically at its lowest, ferry service will be provided exclusively by the MV Balfour, as its draft is shallow enough to safely transit the lake. During this two-week period, the MV Osprey will be out of service for its refit.
The ministry will be seeking permits from federal and provincial regulators to undertake minor dredging of specific sections of the west arm, which is necessary for the continued long-term viability of the Balfour terminal. The ministry also intends to build a new vessel to replace the aging MV Balfour to ensure the long-term operation of the ferry service.
The ferry terminal at Balfour has served the region for 71 years. By improving the terminal, replacing the MV Balfour and making the lake channel safer, the community of Balfour will continue to be an important transportation hub in the Kootenays for many years to come.
Public consultation will begin on Feb. 19, with local public open houses scheduled for Feb. 27 and 28, 2018.
Feedback can also be provided online between Feb. 19 and March 30 at: www.gov.bc.ca/balfourterminal.
Information on service changes and proposed improvements to the Balfour Ferry terminal are available online at: www.gov.bc.ca/balfourterminal
A summary of the 2016 consultation on the Balfour ferry terminal is available at:
Two backgrounders follow.