Glade residents Heather McIntyre and James Derksen live next to the proposed construction site for the new ferry. They traveled to Nelson to protest the plans at the most recent RDCK board meeting on Thursday. Photo: Will Johnson

RDCK faces Glade ferry construction controversy

Glade residents are deeply split over plans to construct a ferry in their park

“How would you like it if they tried to build a ferry in Lakeside Park?”

That’s the question regional director Andy Davidoff posed to Nelson Mayor Deb Kozak and the rest of the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) board at the Prestige on Thursday morning, during a lengthy tirade in which he protested plans to construct a new ferry in Glade Regional Park.

That’s one of two potential locations the ferry could be constructed, and its not the one his residents (Area I) voted in favour of during a recent community meeting. But because the Ministry of Transportation believes the other site, North Beach, would necessitate a much longer timeline — at least six months — they’ve decided to go for Glade instead.

Davidoff brought the issue to the table too late for it to be included in the day’s agenda, which caught board chair Karen Hamling and chief administrative officer Stuart Horn off guard. The meeting was briefly adjourned so they could check their information with staff.

In attendance were Glade residents Heather McIntyre and James Derksen, adjacent property owners who were hoping to convince the board to consider the more remote North Beach site. Speaking to the Star during the break, they said they feel left out of the loop.

“Nobody has ever contacted us about using that location as an assembly site. It wasn’t until the beginning of July and there was a community meeting that we found out that was a possibility,” said McIntyre.

“The community took a vote, it was 21 to 27 in favour of the North Beach site, and we felt since the community had spoken our wishes would be followed through — especially because that’s what WaterBridge (Steel Inc.) wanted.”

The construction process will involve transporting large segments of the ferry that have been pre-constructed elsewhere and welding them all together in preparation for launch — which means the residents’ remote haven will suddenly be host to screaming machinery and bustling teams of construction workers.

According to McIntyre and Davidoff, the consultant on the project judged the North Beach site to be preferable. The project managers, however, have ruled it out as an option because it would take too long to get the proper permitting in place. They were originally aiming to begin construction this month.

Davidoff feels residents have been put in an awkward position.

“We’ve had so many issues with the construction of the new ferry ramps. For instance, the temporary ramps were put in at the wrong angle and many Glade residents suffered vehicular damage,” he told the Star after the meeting.

“And the other fact is there are people who are opposed to the new ferry because they wanted a bridge, and others who don’t want a new ferry because they’re afraid that will allow big logging trucks to come in and log their watershed.”

The new Glade cable ferry will be able to hold nine vehicles, compared to the present eight. The “life cycle” cost is estimated at $19.4 million over 40 years.

It’s expected to be in service by the end of 2018.

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