Community input requested for the future of Balfour terminal
A change in the location of the Balfour ferry landing has been talked about for years.
Now the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is considering putting the relocation plan of the inland ferry terminal on the west side of Kootenay Lake into action in order to enhance access and improve safety and service for ferry users.
Beginning mid-June 2016, residents and business owners in Balfour and the surrounding area will have an opportunity to provide input into the future of the terminal.
“The continued safe and efficient operation of our inland ferry service is extremely important to our government, and to the travellers who rely on it,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone.
“The issues we’re facing with the current terminal require action, through the development of a plan that works for the local community. Public input is a major consideration for my ministry as we assess our options.”
The Ministry of Transportation said the current location of the Balfour terminal, located 31 kilometers north of Nelson on Highway 3A, presents challenges for marine and vehicle traffic.
The Ministry said in the water, the narrow west arm of Kootenay Lake is becoming increasingly shallow, damaging the hull of the MV Osprey.
The increase in pleasure boat traffic, particularly during summer, is also a concern for the ferry operator as they navigate this narrow channel.
During peak season, vehicles can back up onto Highway 31 and Highway 3A, creating traffic safety concerns.
Traffic volumes can also slow the unloading of vehicles, resulting in delays to the ferry schedule.
Several potential locations for the terminal were considered in and around the Balfour/Queens Bay area, including the existing location, as part of a technical feasibility study undertaken last year.
Beginning June 15, 2016, area residents will have an opportunity to review these options and provide their feedback on the future of the terminal.
Information will be available online at www.gov.bc.ca/balfourterminal
Area residents are also invited to a public open house on Wednesday, June 15 at Redfish Elementary school’s gymnasium located at 265 Bryan Rd in Nelson.
The open house runs from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Ferry service on Kootenay Lake currently operates between Balfour on the west side and Kootenay Bay on the east side. The distance is about 9 kilometres, with a crossing time of about 35 minutes.
The MV Osprey provides year round service with the MV Balfour supplementing the summer service. 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.