Moving the Balfour ferry terminal is not such a terrible thing that many are making it out to be.
After analyzing the proposal, which puts the preferred location of the ferry terminal parallel to the existing highway north of Balfour, I believe that this would be an appropriate and reasonable move.
From a transportation point of view, this relocation would serve many purposes. The travel time to the East Shore is dramatically shortened, thus reducing fuel consumption (and our carbon footprint), reduced ferry maintenance costs as a percentage of motor vehicle trips, the potential for increased ferry crossings as demand increases and it eliminates the costly endeavor to dredge the channel.
The proposed location is excellent in that it is a fairly sheltered part of Queens Bay. The shown access and staging/waiting area runs parallel to the highway thus having minimal impact to the existing highway and lakeshore. Also, the 300 to 500 metres taken up by the access road and loading area are a fairly small percentage of the several kilometres of lakeshore of the rest of Queens Bay. The highway access is on a long gentle curve that allows for safe exiting from the highway to the loading area. The property is already government owned eliminating the need to expropriate land. Swimmers, which are rarely sighted at this location, still have most of the beach area available.
What about business? Of course businesses currently located at the existing terminal are concerned because relocation of the ferry landing means change. But change is not necessarily a bad thing. The City of Nelson can attest to that. I’ve worked and lived in Nelson for almost 40 years and there has been a lot of change, with major industries closing and other major employers leaving, but Nelson has and continues to re-purpose itself and still continues to be a vibrant, desirable place to live. This too will happen for Balfour.
Sure, the ferry traffic has a huge influence, but not everyone, myself included, who eats or stops in Balfour uses the ferry. And with better ferry service to the east shore, business is likely to increase and merchants on both sides of Kootenay Lake can benefit from each other. Furthermore, development is a fact and like it or not, it will continue on both sides of the lake. We are best to prepare to accommodate that fact, sooner than later. Finally, the Ministry of Transportation’s proposal has a 44-month timeline, once approved. At best, final approval might happen in six months to a year. With approximately five years to plan, Balfour, with a vision to the future, will continue to be a great place to live and visit.