‘Fiscal climate’ won’t allow change to Kootenay Lake ferry schedule

Nearly 300 East Shore residents who have signed a petition to restore the former sailing times of the Kootenay Lake ferries...

Nearly 300 East Shore residents who have signed a petition encouraging the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to restore the former sailing times of the Kootenay Lake ferries aren’t likely to have their request granted.

As recently reported, East Shore residents have suggested not only returning the MV Osprey 2000 and MV Balfour to the original schedule, as the petition states, but also changing the schedule so the ferries run on the hour.

“The ministry is always willing to consider requests for service changes to meet the needs of residents who rely on inland ferry service,” a ministry spokesperson told the Advance. “However, extending the operating hours would increase labour and other operating costs, and the current fiscal climate does not allow for increased service levels.”

Citing health, economic viability, social development, work opportunities and shopping in West Kootenay towns, the petition was created by East Shore resident Nicole Plouffe in mid-March, with the goal of reaching 500 signatures.

“As a small community we rely on the proximity of larger towns and cities to sustain our quality of life,” says the petition. “We are dependent on these communities for many aspects of our lives and reduced ferry sailings have impeded our way of life.”

The Kootenay Lake ferries used to start the day with a 6:05 commuter run from Kootenay Bay to Balfour. The day would end with a 12:20 a.m. sailing from Balfour to Kootenay Bay, followed by a 1:10 a.m. return sailing. About 10 years ago, the schedule was cut back, with final sailings becoming 9:40 p.m. from Balfour and 10:20 p.m. from Kootenay Bay.

“In 2002/2003, the ministry worked with local residents to develop a schedule that was approved by the majority of east shore communities,” said the ministry spokesperson.

To view the petition, visit www.change.org.