Kootenay Lake Ferry Terminal Issues Overview
Compliments of the East Shore Mainstreet
This brief is intended to bring to the attention of the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, the Minister of Environment, MoTI Marine Branch senior personnel, and local Kootenay Lake east and west shore residents and businesses, serious deficiencies and oversights attendant to the recent MoTI decision to maintain the Kootenay Lake ferry western terminal at its present location in Balfour rather than to relocate it to Queens Bay North. These ignored or inadequately addressed concerns include serious highway and marine safety issues, major unaccounted project costs, environmental and ecological impact, and deficiencies in the public consultation process.
MoTI , in its decision, has ignored or given insufficient weight to the recommendations of Ministry commissioned relocation feasibility studies. Those reports unequivocally and unanimously conclude that the Kootenay Lake ferry should be relocated to Queens Bay North Site 2, an undeveloped Crown shoreline area adjacent to highway 31 approximately three km north of the current terminal.
The Balfour Ferry Terminal Relocation Project Feasibility Study (SNC Lavalin) 2016 study states its unreserved and unequivocal recommendation of a relocation to Queens Bay North Site 2 commenting “The results of the study indicated that the relocation of the Balfour ferry terminal to Queens Bay North was not only technically feasible, it was a superior choice when critically compared under the categories of safety, service, community/stakeholder impact, environmental impact, and financial.”
The SNC Lavalin study further states “The Queens Bay North location improves both highway and marine safety. The location would be able to manage future vehicle growth predictions without the need for highway queuing, and would enhance the service levels with one ferry instead of requiring two ferries to achieve peak demand requirements.” It concludes that regarding service, it provides a 40% savings in transit time with hourly service year round, “In addition, the service level will be significantly improved by the shorter water route reducing the current 50 minute transit time to 30 minutes”.
Also unaddressed are the full range of social and economic impacts to both east and west shore residents arising from the present decision. Additionally, an alarming lack of foresight and intent in MoTI planning and consultation has resulted in the absence of foreshore reclamation and enhancement proposals relevant to the now rejected Queens Bay alternative. These would have served to mitigate economic impact on Balfour businesses and would have provided recreational opportunities for local residents and travellers alike.
The Auditor General has previously stressed the need for thorough assessment of total cumulative effects of government initiated public and approved private sector projects. The recent, highly questionable , MoTI Marine Branch process and decision have failed to do so.
It is requested that the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure instruct the Marine Branch to suspend further progress on Balfour terminal improvements, including dredging, until a comprehensive review of the present decision and alternatives to it can be performed.