People gathered in Balfour today to celebrate the completed upgrades to the ferry terminals.
According to a news release, the upgrades at the Kootenay Bay and Balfour terminals makes washroom facilities more accessible and there are now electric vehicle charging stations.
“I think the government has made a wise choice in upgrading this facility, and I think we are indeed very lucky,” says Ramona Faust, RDCK director for Area E.
“We prioritized this area for development,” says Brittny Anderson, MLA for Nelson-Creston. “I think what we are seeing is really needed, and our government is addressing those needs.”
The province of BC said it worked with the federal government to build local infrastructure so municipalities can thrive off of more commerce and tourism.
“Our government recognizes the importance of investing in local infrastructure that connects communities to one another, and to opportunity,” said Harjit Sajjan, federal Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada in the release
The federal government has invested $17 million on top of what the province has already put into the project.
“We have a lot of events that happen in Kaslo,” says mayor Suzan Hewat. “So having these upgrades to bring people in is a strong importance to the smaller communities.”
The changes to the ferry terminals have increased vehicle queue capacity, and improved the highway connecting the terminal, at Highway 3A and 31, to make it safer, the province says.
“More queue capacity means more commerce coming into the communities,” says Hewat.
“The final part of the upgrades is a new electric-ready vessel for Kootenay Lake,” says Anderson. “We are just waiting for the delivery of key components which have been affected by global supply chain issues.”
The new vessel will more than double the capacity of the MV Balfour, which it will replace, according to a press release.
The new vessel will be delivered in 2024, which is a year later than expected. However, the release said no impacts to the ferry service are expected as a result of the delay.