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Location of ferry construction on waterfront approved despite reservations and concerns

The approval requires Western Pacific Marine Ltd (WPM) to develop a traffic management plan for truck traffic and workers in the northeast area of the city near John’s Walk.

Environmental concern from elements of city council was not enough to block approval of a temporary use permit for the construction of the latest ferry for Kootenay Lake.

Several councilors had major concerns about the location of the ferry build, increased traffic in the area and why the application for the temporary use permit came so late to council. The project location is on lands that are not zoned for the purpose of “ship building,” therefore, a temporary use permit (TUP) is required.

In approving the permit, council required Western Pacific Marine Ltd (WPM) to develop a traffic management plan for truck traffic and workers in the northeast area of the city near John’s Walk.

As well, before the permit is issued, WPM will have to guarantee that the road conditions will remain in the “pre-project condition or repaired to the pre- project condition.” 


“How do we ensure that the traffic management plan meets all of the concerns of the residents and it is effective?” asked Coun. Rik Logtenberg.

Any construction vehicle will have to adhere to rules of the road, noted city senior planner Sebastien Arcand in his report to council on the matter.

The city will likely put-up signage reminding workers that they are going through a residential neighbourhood.

“I think everyone wants to collaborate and find solutions that are going to be feasible. And things may change as the project advances, so I think there is going to be a bit of flexibility there,” Arcand added.

“You can ultimately pull the permit if they don’t comply with the conditions on the permit. That’s why there is a permit in the first place. So that would be your ultimate ‘enforceability,’” said city manager Kevin Cormack.

Within reason, Arcand said. Given that this is a government project, the province could choose to exempt themselves from the permitting process altogether, nullifying the city’s ability to impose any conditions or issue any permits.

Through a city staff report it was noted that “many” adjacent property owners shared their concerns with the proposal, centering around noise, safety and traffic.

A fire and emergency plan will be developed, and Western is required to hold on-going communications with the community to provide information on progress, upcoming work and address community concerns.

“This is not a typical project for Nelson. It can be easy to argue that the project in the proposed location would not make sense for the long term. However, this is a project that will be completed relatively quickly and will ultimately serve the greater community,” wrote Arcand in his report to council.

“There will undoubtedly be a temporary increase in traffic and noise in the area but, based on the facts presented in this report, they are within acceptable limits.”

Through a city staff report it was noted that “many” adjacent property owners shared their concerns with the proposal to build a new ferry on the Nelson Landing building site. – City of Nelson graphic

Many permits were required from several layers of government to begin construction of the lake’s first electric ferry, said Arcand.

“We are one component, but the proponent is required to go through many layers of approval to construct the ferry,” he said.

WPM was awarded a $63-million contract to build a new car ferry to transport people between Balfour and Crawford Bay.

WPM has entered into an agreement with Nelson Landing Development Corporation to use a portion of their land — identified as the most suitable — to construct the ferry.

In addition, WPM is also conjointly seeking approval from the province to use the Crown parcel which is located just east of the Nelson Landing property. The project is anticipated to be completed by the Fall of 2022.

The project includes five phases:

Site preparation and mobilization (Spring 2021)

  • Earthworks involving clearing, grubbing and site grading.

  • Installation of the dry dock — used to construct the hull of the ferry — currently moored at Sunshine Bay.
  • Construction of an earth berm and fencing around the perimeter of the site.

  • Rerouting of the existing walking path, construction of a gravel road for site access, and installation of electrical power to the site.
  • Assembly, outfitting, commissioning (phase two to four)

Construction of the ferry will be performed throughout this part of the project.

Modules of the hull will be delivered to the site and will be lifted by a 400-tonne crane into the dry dock that will be located at the water’s edge.

Upon completion of the hull structure, the dry dock will be floated offshore and sunk so the hull can be floated. The dry dock will them be returned to Sunshine Bay.

Outfitting of the vessel — including installation of engines, mechanical and electrical components — will occur with the ferry located south of the dry dock location. Ferry equipment and materials will be craned into position or transported onto the hull via a steel ramp.

Commissioning consists of testing all systems, and operational capability of the vessel. Open water trials (maneuverability, safety operations etc.) will be completed.

Demobilization (Fall 2022)

Upon completion of the ferry construction the project area will be returned to its previous condition.

All structures, and appurtenances will be removed, including the soil berm and fencing and temporary walking path. The existing walking path will be reestablished, and any disturbances will be revegetated and remediated.

Source: City of Nelson