In a recent Black Press newspaper article, MLA Michelle Mungall is quoted saying that the Kootenay Lake ferry crossing time would be reduced by five to 10 minutes by moving the ferry terminal from Balfour to Queens Bay and that she is looking into a ferry schedule change with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. The fact is, there will be nine million ferry users in the next 25 years.
I am a member of the East Shore Advocacy Society, a group of non-partisan ordinary working folks and retirees. I am fairly certain that we would not have spent hundreds of hours collecting signatures for our petition this past season if the ferry crossing time was improved by a mere five or 10 minutes. I contacted the ministry marine branch in Victoria and was advised that the ferry crossing time is specified in an SNC Lavalin 2016 report.
In the executive summary, it is clear that the ferry loading/travel/unloading time would be 30 minutes. That is a reduction of 20 minutes, not five or 10 minutes. There are three reasons for this improvement: a shorter distance travelled from 8.8 km to 5.4 km; the ferry would not have to slow down in the narrow and shallow West Arm; and the ferry design and ramp at the new terminal would have two car loading and unloading facilities.
I re-verified all this information with industry experts and sources. Therefore, hourly sailings are not only possible but could have a significant impact on regional employment, services and tourism, as well as on our students. The energy efficiency improvement is substantial. With approximately the same amount of fuel, more sailings are possible using one ferry, reducing summer tourist lineups. Two ferries would be used for the Salmo pass closures and have a significant improvement over the present car carrying capacities.
The East Shore Advocacy Society would support extra sailings for special events such as the Kaslo Jazz Festival and Starbelly Jam festival or for similar events. There is little or no justification for additional sailings during the off-season. Please help us understand the rationale for this proposal since the facts do not appear to support additional sailings.