New washrooms, more parking, sidewalks, electric vehicle charging stations, improved lighting and a covered waiting area for walk-on passengers.
Those are some of the changes to the Balfour and Kootenay Bay ferry terminals officially inaugurated by Nelson-Creston MLA Brittny Anderson before a crowd of about 25 people on Aug. 25.
“This all makes for a much nicer and more welcoming ferry terminal,” she said.
The changes also include greater vehicle queue space for ferry traffic.
“I know folks here will know that in the summertime when there’s heavy traffic, people can be lined up on the highway and it was a significant safety risk,” Anderson said about the Balfour terminal.
Robyn Goldsbury, co-owner of the Dock and Duck, a restaurant and bar located at the Balfour ferry landing, told the Nelson Star she thinks the new facility will help with traffic flow.
“It’s renovated downtown Balfour and made us look upbeat, and it was time,” she said.
The $5.54-million contract for the terminal upgrades was awarded to Marwest Industries Ltd. of Castlegar in 2021.
Some businesses on the east side of the ferry landing in Balfour were not so upbeat.
Randy Zelonka, owner of Gill and Gift, said the design and location of a new sidewalk has made it impossible for large vehicles such as trucks, emergency vehicles, large RVs, and vehicles towing boats to access the gas pumps at his business. He said his business has suffered as a result.
Robert Lang, the owner of land on which the four businesses nearest the lake are located, said there used to be a lane outside of his parking lot for vehicles that wished to stop for a variety of reasons. That lane is gone now, he says, and vehicles are causing congestion in his parking lot.
“One of the main things that we recommended (in government public consultation sessions) was that they have a turn lane or a pull-out lane for when the vehicles exit the ferry, so they have a place to turn their propane back on,” he said.