LETTERS: Why wait to convert ferry to electric?

From readers Ron Robinson and Reggie Goldsbury

Re: “Funds approved for new Kootenay Lake ferry,” May 2

I was encouraged at the news of a replacement vessel for the MV Balfour that runs between Kootenay Bay and Balfour. The increased capacity is much needed.

It was interesting to note the new vessel will be “electric ready” but initially diesel powered. I wonder why government would invest in the diesel phase when the technology for electric is already up and running. Norway, for example, already has a fleet of electric vessels. Norwegian Electric Systems recently contracted a B.C. company (Corvus Energy) to build the world’s largest battery pack for their new vessels (some of which are hybrid).

As part of this project to replace the MV Balfour, it would be fitting if the busses connecting to the ferry terminals were also electric.

We are in a state of transition as we move to non-carbon based energy. The replacement of the MV Balfour seems a perfect opportunity to make that transition very public.

Ron Robinson

Nelson

Time to end ferry infighting

The provincial government made the right decision to modernize the Balfour Ferry terminal and build a “proper fit” vessel for Kootenay Lake. By 2022 the Balfour terminal will be renovated to increase loading speed, traffic capacity and safety; a new, larger, environmentally friendly ferry will be in service and cars won’t be left behind because the small ferry is full; and minor dredging this fall will end weight restrictions in seasonal low water allowing for greater traffic flow.

Supporters of moving the terminal had much to gain fighting this location fight; Balfour and Queens Bay had everything to lose. Concern about environmental issues, economic damage, logistical problems (like holding back the mudslide), community watershed contamination and social/community restructuring — all of which added significant unaccounted cost to the project — went unheard to those on a reduced travel time crusade. The province understands there is more to this project. The continued negativity is deterring travellers from taking the Kootenay Lake route. The perception is now long wait times even though ferry traffic is almost half of what it was a dozen years ago.

It is time to stop this infighting and move on together. Efficiencies to shorten the ride can be met with increased vessel speed and a new schedule to include later sailings and sailings to coincide with people’s needs. Lobbying the government for a second lane and safer traffic flow on the East Shore’s Highway 3A should commence. Viable solutions can and will be sought for the remaining concerns. Together, through this solution, all communities can benefit and grow rural lake vitality.

Reggie Goldsbury

Balfour

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