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Vancouver company awarded contract to build new Kootenay Lake ferry

Work on replacing the MV Balfour is scheduled to begin later this year. — The Nelson Daily photo

The BC Government announced Thursday that Western Pacific Marine Ltd. of Vancouver has been awarded the contract to build the new new electric-ready ferry for Kootenay Lake.

In a media release, the BC Government said work will begin later this year on a new electric-ready ferry, providing passengers with a larger, cleaner and more accessible vessel.

The contract is worth $62.9-million.

"This is an exciting milestone for a project that will significantly benefit the entire region," said Michelle Mungall, MLA for Nelson-Creston on behalf of Claire Trevena, B.C.'s Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure.

"The new, cleaner ferry will move more people more efficiently, improving community connections and local economies."

The new ferry, replacing the MV Balfour, will be ready for service in early 2023 and will more than double the capacity.

The MV Balfour will be retired from service once the new ferry is operational.

"With construction beginning here in Canada on the new electric-ready ferry for Kootenay Lake, we are building toward a greener future with made-in-Canada clean technology," said Catherine McKenna, federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities.

"Once launched, the new ferry will make it easier for residents and tourists to travel through the Kootenay region.

“Canada's Infrastructure plan invests in thousands of projects, creates jobs across the country and builds stronger communities."

The BC Government said the new ship will be able to accommodate up to 55 vehicles and, used in tandem with the larger MV Osprey 2000, will reduce sailing waits during the busy summer months.

The vessel will be fully converted to electric propulsion by 2030, once shore power is installed and reliability of the technology advances for use on a daily basis.

As part of CleanBC, the Province is working to electrify the inland ferry fleet by 2040. The new vessel will be configured as a hybrid diesel-electric with all the systems, equipment and components for electric propulsion.

The new ferry will contribute to improved safety, reliability and efficiency of the Kootenay Lake Ferry service.

Other related work planned includes upgrades to Balfour and Kootenay Bay terminals, and minor dredging has been completed in the West Arm.

The Kootenay Lake Ferry Service Improvements project is funded in part by the Government of Canada through the New Building Canada Fund's Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure Component-National and Regional Projects.

The Kootenay Lake Ferry runs across Kootenay Lake, 35 kilometers north of Nelson on Highway 3A between Balfour and Kootenay Bay. Capacity of the MV Balfour is 28 vehicles and 150 passengers. The MV Osprey is also on this run, with a capacity of 80 vehicles and 250 passengers.

Learn More:

Kootenay Lake Ferry Service Improvements project