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Construction of new Kootenay Lake Ferry continues at temporary shipyard near Nelson

Lone Sheep Publishing
By Lone Sheep Publishing
May 9th, 2023

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure released an update regarding the construction of the new Kootenay Lake Ferry.

In a media release, the MOTI said the ferry construction at the temporary shipyard on the north side of Nelson is ongoing.

However, the MOTI said the delivery of the new vessel to the Ministry is delayed due to various challenges arising from the pandemic, global supply chain issues and the impacts of geopolitical events.

"This delay will result in the vessel being delivered at the end of 2024 and entering service in 2025 instead of 2024 as previously scheduled," the MOTI said.

"In the next stage of the project, the ship’s components will be fully assembled, and the vessel will be floated near the temporary shipyard. Outfitting of the mechanical, electrical, and control systems and interior components will continue throughout this year and into next; followed by sea trials before completion of the vessel at the end of 2024."

The MOTI said the new ferry will welcome passengers when it starts service in 2025, but in the meantime, ferry service on Kootenay Lake is expected to continue without interruption.

"The Ministry and DB Contractor remain committed to delivering a high-quality vessel that will meet the needs of the local community for many years to come,"  the MOTI said.

"Further updates on the project’s progress will be provided as the construction of the new Kootenay Lake ferry continues."

In 2022, safety and amenity upgrades to both Balfour and Kootenay Bay terminals were completed.

The Kootenay Lake Ferry operates vehicle and passenger service between Balfour and Kootenay Bay, a distance of nearly nine kilometers.

The MV Osprey 2000, built in 2000, operates year-round, and the MV Balfour, built in 1954, operates in the summer when the demand is higher.  

Artist’s rendering of the new electric-ready vessel. — MOTI photo


In 2016 and 2018, the Province consulted with ferry users, area residents, and businesses about proposed improvements to the service, safety, and infrastructure of the Kootenay Lake Ferry. The Province made key changes to the final project plan after considering the input received, along with technical, environmental, and financial considerations. Some of these considerations were documented in the 2018 Consideration Memo.

In April 2019, the Province, with funding support from the Government of Canada, announced safety and efficiency improvements to the Kootenay Lake Ferry Service. The project involves the procurement of a new right-sized electricready vessel, safety and amenity improvements to both the Balfour and Kootenay Bay terminals, and now-completed minor dredging in the west arm of Kootenay Lake. Collectively, these improvements will provide ferry users with a safer and more reliable ferry service as well as contribute to the Province’s goal of employing electric propulsion on all inland ferries.

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