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City passes on re-location of East Shore ferry

Nelson’s city council elected to not get involved in the call for the re-assessment of the Balfour Ferry Terminal, deciding it was not a city issue.

The city will not be on board with a campaign supporting the re-location of Balfour ferry terminal.

The East Shore Advocacy Society (ESAS) requested the support from Nelson city council — along with other local governments in the Kootenay Lake region — as it sought the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s (MOTI) reassessment and review of the decision to not relocate the Balfour ferry terminal to Queen’s Bay.

“The ESAS believes that relocating the ferry to Queens Bay is the ‘largest energy improvement opportunity’ in the region,” read a city staff report to city council.

The society also believed that the public consultation process favoured Balfour and Queen’s Bay residents, and did not properly consider the interests of the East Shore.

Nelson’s city council elected to not get involved in the call for the re-assessment, deciding it was not a city issue.

The society had obtained letters of support from the following municipalities: Cranbrook, Trail, Kaslo and Creston. It has also obtained letters from the chambers of commerce from Creston, Trail and Cranbrook and the Boswell and District Farmers’ Institute. Meanwhile the Regional District of Central Kootenay declined to consider the ESAS’ request, as did the Nelson Chamber of Commerce.

Got to get back in time

Balfour has served as the western terminus of the Kootenay Lake Ferry since 1947.

Four years ago MOTI conducted a technical feasibility study to analyze a number of potential alternative ferry sites. The report recommended that the terminal be relocated to a site at Queen’s Bay north.

However, the report found that moving the terminal to Queen’s Bay shortened the distance from nine kilometres to 5.4 km and transit times from 50 minutes to 30 minutes. In addition, the relocation would cost $25 million as opposed to the $36-40 million required to upgrade the Balfour terminal and replace the ferry.

The recommendation was considered by MOTI but it felt the report did not evaluate the full range of impacts on the community, and commenced a public consultation process in June 2016.

Ultimately, following the public consultation process, MOTI made the decision to maintain and renew the Balfour ferry terminal in its present location.

— Source: City of Nelson