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LETTER: Ferry construction: a parking lot in paradise?

From reader Heather Pelant

Re: Proposal to build new Kootenay Lake ferry in Nelson, Feb. 4

When the Chaka Mika mall was built, it literally paved paradise to put up a parking lot. Since then, Nelson seems to be making better decisions about how to preserve the lakeshore. It was this forward-looking vision that led us as an extended family to build along John’s Walk 14 years ago.

It came as an awful surprise when we were ambushed a few weeks ago with the decision to construct a new ferry within city limits, utilizing residential lands.

A recent meeting left us unconvinced that deep due diligence is being done. The very short timeframe for any neighbourhood or city response leads me to believe this is deliberate.

When the Osprey ferry was built 21 years ago, the area was bare land. Since then, there has been remediation and an extraordinary amount of housing built in the area. In addition to Sproat Drive, there are multiple housing complexes: Silver Bay, Amber Bay, the Grain, Peter Ward’s apartment complex, a series of unnamed row houses and Lake View Village, a senior assisted living facility. This is a high-density housing area.

The project managers suggest this is a temporary two-year process. This is years of community and lakeshore degradation. Without impact studies, Nelson will once again be paving paradise.

Of more immediate concern is COVID. While the estimation of workers cited was fluid — from 40 to 80 — the majority of workers (steel fabricators needed for the project) would be coming and going from Alberta for reasons not explained. Until Nelson achieves herd immunity through vaccination, this project should be paused.

With so many questions unanswered and a lack of details around governance of this project I would ask that the city, province and project managers put a pause on this initiative until good due diligence is undertaken.

Heather Pelant

Nelson and San Francisco

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