Western Pacific Marine says it’s confident the MV Balfour will be available to fill in on the Kootenay Lake ferry run when the Osprey 2000 is out of service for its five-year Transport Canada inspection this month.
The Balfour, which holds 28 vehicles compared to the Osprey’s 80 and typically only runs in the summer, is presently undergoing improvements.
Regional manager Bryan Coe expects the work to finish in time for the Balfour to do fill-in duty on April 18 — but it won’t be inspected and certified until the day before. “We’re confident we’ve done everything required,” Coe said.
If the Balfour isn’t ready or a problem is found during the inspection, the Osprey will operate a single round trip on the morning of the 18th — leaving Balfour at 6:30 a.m. and Kootenay Bay at 7:30 a.m. — and another in the evening, leaving Balfour at 6:10 p.m. and Kootenay Bay at 7:10 p.m. (all times Pacific).
Regardless, Coe is asking motorists to be aware of potential delays due to reduced capacity and plan accordingly. Drivers are advised to arrive early and consider travelling outside of peak hours.
Coe said while the timelines are tight, they weren’t able to move the inspection dates around. “It’s not something we have complete and total control over,” he said. “We’ve re-engineered the Balfour and redone the anchoring arrangement. Now all we have to do is wait for a green light from Transport Canada.”
A contingency plan is in place to notify motorists if the Balfour is unavailable on the 18th. Coe said about the only thing that could throw a wrench in the plans is the weather in Cranbrook — the inspectors are flying in from Vancouver.
The Balfour has now plied Kootenay Lake for 60 years, even longer than the SS Moyie, which was in service from 1898 to 1957.
“I come from the Lower Mainland and we didn’t have anything built in ‘53,” Coe said. “The last vessel I had command of was built in ‘63 and it was almost a museum piece. The Balfour is a good little ship.”
Starting May 1, the Osprey will be out of service for 12 days during its semi-annual refit and the Balfour is again expected to fill in.