LETTER: SNC Lavalin report on Balfour Ferry dissected

From reader H. Andrusak...

Re: Residents pack Kootenay Lake Ferry meeting

I have reviewed the SNC Lavalin technical feasibility report for moving the Balfour ferry terminal to Queens Bay.

The company gives the impression that equal weighting was applied to all four options discussed. However, it has failed to provide a balanced analysis of the four options.

Where is the comparison between older bathymetric surveys with the new one to demonstrate the lake outlet area is infilling?

I note that one of the two sites claimed to be too shallow is on the north side of the current channel marker and is not used by the ferry, so this analysis is flawed. No analysis is provided on the cost of keeping the water level higher during the early spring rather than taking the narrow engineering solution of simply dredging. Dredging would have huge implications for all water users on the West Arm and provide the impetus for BC Hydro to take another look at the Grohman Narrows folly.

I agree with a previous writer that the relocation issue is driven by hydro interests to push water through at a faster rate. Is dredging being discussed as part of renegotiating the Columbia Treaty?

Certainly our American friends would like to see this happen. Kootenay Lake has endured enough ecological impacts in the last century without tinkering around with the West Arm yet again.

Another example of the lack of objectivity in the report is the estimation of reduced travel time. The Queens Bay north option is described as having favourable rapid loading and unloading features that are touted as time savers. However, the report describes two lanes loading and unloading in an effort to rationalize this option, but no mention is made of the equivalent need to have two lanes at the Kootenay Bay landing. So I guess it’s okay to hurry people on and off at Queens Bay, but not at Kootenay Bay? There is no cost assigned for Kootenay Bay landing modifications, thus skewing the cost analysis.

Clearly the intention is to infill the entire public beach areas currently used by local residents and encroach into the lake. Government has some pencil work to do on this issue as the Queens Bay north terminal description is too vague and the cost estimate too speculative.

Also, readers should note that the current Osprey ferry goes off line for maintenance a few weeks each year, yet no cost is assigned despite the report stating only one ferry is required. I acknowledge SNC Lavalin cautions their report is preliminary with some good information, but I suspect they were guided to a certain conclusion by those who have little vision or concern for local interests.

In my view a great deal more work is required before any balanced decision can be considered. Most people who have moved to live in and around Kootenay Lake chose to do so for life style reasons that include a slower pace and enjoyment of the natural beauty that the lake is famous for. Perhaps a referendum is in order?

H. Andrusak

Nelson

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