Two Kootenay Lake organizations submitted a 6000-signature petition on Thursday to the provincial Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
The signatures, collected by the Queens Bay Residents Association and the Balfour Ferry Business Coalition, ask for a new ferry, not a new ferry landing. The petition arrived on minister Todd Stone’s desk on October 6, the final day of the public input period for the government’s proposal to move the Balfour ferry landing to Queens Bay.
“It’s been a tough summer, ” says Balfour resident and business owner Robin Goldsbury. “This is our home. This is our livelihood. It’s time the government listened to the people.”
The petition states that its signers are are “deeply concerned that the government has not considered the economic, environmental, social, cultural and many logistical and budgetary concerns involved in moving the Balfour Ferry Landing to Queens Bay – problems that overwhelm the narrowly focused concerns outlined by (the ministry).”
Goldsbury said a large proportion of the signatures are from residents of the Kootenays although she did not have a breakdown of the numbers of tourists from outside the region who signed.
She is concerned that the ferry issue has created a rift between Balfour and the East Shore, some of whose residents are in favour of moving the ferry terminal.
“I don’t like this pitting community against community. There are ways the government can address all of our issues and keep all of us happy. I have staff that come from the East Shore, and I can tell you the ferry schedule is not designed for people. It is designed for the ferry corporation.
“I think it is a crying shame if this has descended into the East Shore versus Balfour and Queens Bay.”
Goldsbury says she wants the government to take a broad view.
“Imagine if we had an electric non-polluting ferry on the lake and we used it as a showpiece. We could speed up the sailings and meet the needs of the people because if we had a better schedule a lot of people on the East Shore would be happy. This would be a positive for the government, for tourism, and for the people.
“We could make this a win-win-win for the East Shore, Balfour and Queens Bay.”
Asked when a decision will be made and what the decision-making process will be, Stone’s office responded to the Star by email:
“We recognize the strong community interest in the future of the Balfour terminal. We extended the consultation period to ensure enough time for everyone to provide input, and I thank those who took the time to offer feedback.
“Ministry staff are now going through the more than 2,000 responses. We’re going to take some time with this, and will update the community in the near future.”
Related stories in the Nelson Star
Province looks at moving Balfour ferry terminal, September 18, 2014
Balfour ferry terminal move ‘years out,’ MLA says, September 19, 2014
Kootenay Lake study identified top Queens Bay terminal site, November 14, 2014
Meeting planned on Balfour ferry terminal move, May 31, 2016
Battle brewing over Balfour ferry terminal, June 12, 2016
Queens Bay ferry move would cost $25-million, study says, June 14, 2016
Residents pack Kootenay Lake ferry meeting, June 16, 2016
Turn Queens Bay beach into regional park, residents say, June 27, 2016
Group set to study impact of Balfour ferry loss, August 26, 2916
Many East Shore residents favour ferry move, October 7, 2016