Nelson-Creston MLA Michelle Mungall is playing down talk of moving the Kootenay Lake ferry’s western terminal, saying it would take years to become reality, if it ever does.
Mungall also promised “extensive” public consultation if relocating the Balfour ferry landing advances beyond the theoretical. “I will make sure my constituents have the input they need into any type of process,” she said. “This would be a big change on our lake.”
Mungall met this week with the district manager for transportation after hearing concerns that the ferry terminal relocation might be more than just a rumor.
She said the ministry’s “super low-level inquiry” is typical before a major capital improvement. The Balfour ferry dock needs “significant work,” but because it is a long-term, multi-decade investment, staff first ask themselves whether the present location still makes sense in terms of service and cost to taxpayers.
“That’s all they’re doing right now,” Mungall said. “There has been nothing beyond that. Just an initial review. This isn’t something that’s gone to treasury board or been reviewed by anybody other than staff here within the local office.”
Mungall said “by no means” has such a move been given the go ahead, and noted it would be subject to many variables, including finding and acquiring a new site.
Another issue at play is that during low water levels, the Osprey 2000’s propellor has been known to scrape bottom. “That is uncommon but it has happened,” Mungall said. “They’re looking at the long-term impact and cost to taxpayers of those few, rare instances.”
Mungall said the process could move forward once those questions are answered, but expects It is “years out.”
Although she didn’t have a dollar figure for the dock improvements, she said the work is intended to maintain their safety.
Mungall also said as far as she knows, the MV Balfour is still in good working condition, despite its age. Although it turns 60 this year, it is only used a few months per year and when the Osprey is undergoing maintenance.
Balfour has been home to the ferry terminal since 1947. The idea of moving it to Queens Bay has been previously considered but rejected.