Herve Blezy (right) of the East Shore Advocacy Society makes his presentation to the Regional District of Central Kootenay board of directors Thursday. Prior to the presentation, Area E director Ramona Faust (left) tried to block Blezy from speaking. Photo: Tyler Harper

Balfour ferry terminal relocation debate reignites

A pro-relocation presentation was made to the Regional District of Central Kootenay

The debate to keep the Kootenay Lake ferry terminal in Balfour returned Thursday at a contentious Regional District of Central Kootenay meeting.

Arguments in favour of relocating the Balfour ferry terminal made by Herve Blezy of the East Shore Advocacy Society were heard by the RDCK board of directors, but only after a failed attempt by Area E director Ramona Faust to have the presentation removed from the agenda.

In November 2016, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure cited public outcry as the reason it decided to keep the terminal in Balfour despite an SNC-Lavalin report earlier that year recommending a move to Queens Bay.

Now, over two years later, Blezy wants the reasons for that decision re-examined.

“The consultation appeared to be very unbalanced,” said Blezy. “There were only face-to-face meetings on the West Shore. There were no face-to-face meetings on the East Shore. In reality, there should have been consultation all the way from Castlegar to Cranbrook, Salmo, Kaslo … They really missed getting the entire region.

“This is a regional issue, not a local issue.”

Last June the transportation ministry reiterated plans to keep the terminal in Balfour, where it has been since 1947. It also announced further dredging was required near the terminal, and that a new vessel to replace the MV Balfour would be sailing by 2022.

But Blezy told RDCK directors there’s still time for the plan to change course and requested a letter of support.

He cited SNC-Lavalin’s report, which stated moving the terminal to Queens Bay would reduce the travel distance from nine to 5.4 kilometres and transit times from 50 to 30 minutes.

The report also estimated relocation would cost $25 million, as opposed to the $36-to-$40 million required to upgrade the Balfour terminal and replace the ferry.

Blezy said the plan to keep the ferry terminal where it is runs counter to regional climate change initiatives.

“It is the largest energy improvement opportunity that I see in the district. I can’t believe that we’re not going to try to act upon it.”

Faust, whose electoral area includes Balfour and Queens Bay, said she did not believe Blezy should have been heard without advocates speaking for the West Shore.

“I believe the regional district board has to be impartial, and if not impartial has to be fair,” said Faust. “I also believe there are issues that are beyond our mandate and it is easy to use us as a political instrument. I believe this was one of those times.”

Her motion to block the presentation was defeated 8-7. Area F director Tom Newell spoke in favour of Faust’s motion. Area A director Garry Jackman, who represents Kootenay Bay and the East Shore, said he felt Blezy should be heard and was supported by directors Walter Popoff (Area H) and Andy Davidoff (Area I).

Chair Aimee Watson said the district has also received a request to speak from West Shore advocates.

Faust said reopening the debate is unfair to Queens Bay and Balfour residents, and the board can’t support the presentation without hearing from her constituents.

“People whose homes would be expropriated or put at risk, people whose businesses rely on the location of the ferry landing, people who have a concern about ecological impacts of our water system.”

The board did not hold a vote following Blezy’s presentation.

Although the regional district has no direct control of the terminal’s location, in August 2016 it granted $8,960 to the Queens Bay Residents Association to study the impacts of relocating the terminal.

Related:

Kootenay Lake ferry study identified top Queens Bay terminal site

Many East Shore residents favour ferry terminal move

2016’s Top Stories #6: The Kootenay Lake ferry debate



tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Seven West Kootenay projects receive over $1.7 million in provincial funding

The RDCK, Civic Theatre and Touchstones Museum are among the recipients

LETTER: Backyard hens an eggcellent idea

From readers Abby Wilson and Andrew Woodward

Stephanie Fischer awarded the Medal of Good Citizenship

Fischer was recognized for her volunteer work in Nelson

Mungall: B.C.’s 2040 target for all electric vehicles sales is realistic

The government tabled the Zero Emissions Vehicles Act last week

West Kootenay gleaner’s group gets big funding boost

CBT grant allows project to save more local produce from compost bin

VIDEO: Robot rumble at Selkirk College

Kids from all around the Kootenays competed in the 7th annual RobotGames Saturday

Prince George sweeps to first-ever BC Hockey League crown

Spruce Kings beat Vernon Vipers 3-1 in the Okanagan Wednesday for 13th straight playoff win

Hwang’s first MLS goal lifts Whitecaps to 1-0 win over LAFC

Vancouver picks up first victory of season

Child-proof your windows ahead of warm weather: B.C. expert

Fifteen children were taken to BC Children’s Hospital for falls in 2018

B.C. trucker pleads guilty to lesser charges in fatal Manitoba crash

Gurjant Singh was fined $3,000 and given a one-year driving prohibition.

Study links preschool screen time to behavioural and attention problems

The research looked at more than 2,400 families

More than $100,000 raised for family of professional skier who died near Pemberton

Dave Treadway leaves behind his pregnant wife and two young boys

BC SPCA asks public for donations after puppy caught in trap

The puppy’s medical bills are expected to amount to more than $4,600

B.C. party bus monitors required to watch for booze, drugs on board

New rule in time for grad outings, minister Claire Trevena says

Most Read