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Letter: Moving terminal to Queens Bay cuttting costs the chief motivation

To The Editor:

I am a resident of Queen’s Bay and working with my local community association. We are trying to sort out the issues around  MOTI ‘s (Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure) need to “address challenges around the Balfour Ferry terminal.“ 

One of their solutions is to move the ferry landing to Queen’s Bay.  Complex business to be sure, so many factors, so many opinions, lots of challenges.

A big challenge is communication.  MOTI is unable to engage with the public, with any depth. 

They have, to their credit, extended the consultation period to October 6.  They are accepting input until then. In this critical information gathering period, they are not engaging in any meaningful discussions, or problem solving involving expertise of the community.

It is unfortunate that our government does not have the will or resources to look more broadly at the problems they face. The statement of a MOTI official that “The only thing I can’t do is nothing“ is not likely to get us to the best outcome.

The engineering company, SNC Lavalin, who was commissioned by government to find a new ferry landing could stand to win if the contracts were awarded for a new terminal.

The layers and complexity continue like ripples, from a stone cast in the lake.

What are the socioeconomic and environmental impacts?  What about the issue of lake levels and dams and treaties?  How are fish stocks affected either way?  

What about dredging, traffic patterns, the need for a new ferry, huge technical issues, wise use of public space? ETC.

I am in favor of improving the access to the West Arm and upgrading the infrastructure in Balfour, rather than destroying a beautiful beach. Yes I happen to live close to that beach. When the plan for destruction comes to your back yard, it is time to stand up and pay attention. I appreciate the wakeup call! 

I also see maintaining the Balfour site as the best outcome. I believe fair economic and environmental studies would show this. We have to assume the SNC Lavalin study is only preliminary.

It is time that the concerns of the East shore residents are addressed. They have been dealt some rough blows by government reducing services, in healthcare, ferry service etc. The fallout in a rural community when access to services is limited is greater than it is for an urban area.   

I doubt, however, that ferry service would be improved by moving the ferry to Queens Bay. Improving service is not the mandate of  MOTI. Improving, or being seen to cut, their costs, is a chief motivation. It drives the deal whether those numbers make sense or not. East shore residents need to have their concerns addressed by MOTI.They use the ferry more than anyone.

So in the midst of all these vested interests: political, personal, business and corporate, let’s keep respectfully engaging with each other.   

That includes the government agencies.  There are lots of good people in tough places, others inept and shortsighted, responding narrowly to the pressures they are facing.  Don’t let anyone get away with dividing us, or pushing through a project that is not well researched and thought through.  

Rather, we can dialogue and work together, to preserve our precious public space in Queens Bay and design a good outcome for improving the infrastructure, public space, and economy already in place in Balfour.

Thanks for listening.  Keep sharing.             

Maureen Jansma, Queens Bay, BC