The government has announced plans to replace the Kootenay Lake ferry MV Balfour. Work on the new ferry is expected to begin this year. It is my understanding that although the new ferry will be configured as a hybrid diesel-electric with all the systems, equipment and components for electric propulsion, it will not be fully converted to electric propulsion until 2030.
While I applaud the government’s intention to convert the entire B.C. ferry fleet to electric power over the next 20 years, it makes no sense to me that the brand-new ferry for Kootenay Lake will start out running on diesel. My consternation is based on the following:
• There are already fully electric ferries operating in Norway and two new electric ferries in Ontario. So there are fully-tested models to follow.
• Why wouldn’t we achieve zero-emissions right away rather than waiting another 10 years?
• A fully electric ferry will be virtually maintenance-free, meaning that any extra up-front cost to acquire the ferry and ensure availability of sufficient shore power would be recouped in a very short time through savings on maintenance and fuel.
Replacing the current ferry with one that will still run on diesel for another 10 years makes a mockery of your government’s claim that it is truly committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions within the timeframe dictated by the climate emergency we are facing. The time has passed for incremental improvements. We need bold actions now, and I expect nothing less of our government.