Upper Arrow Lake ferry construction ahead of schedule

Construction on the new Upper Arrow Lake ferry to ply the route between Shelter Bay and Galena Bay is ahead of schedule, said John Harding, president of ferry-building contractor Waterbridge Steel, Inc.

“It’ll be gracing the shores before the long weekend in May,” Harding told the Arrow Lakes News in a Nov. 15 interview.

Currently, the crew of 35 to 40 workers at the site are completing outfitting, piping and electrical work on the replacement ferry.

With the end of construction in sight, the new challenge is what’s on the horizon. Waterbridge has built a significant steel fabricating shop on the shores of the Upper Arrow Lake just outside of Nakusp.

There have been rumours the company may be eyeing more ferry-building contracts in the region or beyond.

Harding said there is nothing to announce.

“All we can say is we’re interested in doing more steel fabricating and we’re looking all over the countryside to get some so that we can continue to work, otherwise we’ll have to fold up our tent and dismantle everything that’s here, and we don’t want to do that,” Harding said.

He added himself and his team has grown fond of Nakusp and hoped they could stay.

So, what about the other two ferries on the Arrow Lakes – Needles and Arrow Park?

Harding said the Needles ferry is still mid-life and the Arrow Park ferry isn’t at the end of its years.

For now, Harding said the company was looking for any kind of steel fabricating work available, saying they’re highly qualified.

We asked the B.C. Ministry of Transportation’s communications department about the future of ferry-building contracts on the Arrow Lakes or in the Kootenay region. They responded with only a very brief statement that skirted the thrust of this important economic question for the Nakusp area.

“The ministry does not have any other contracts to build inland ferries at this time,” wrote ministry spokesperson Robert Adam.


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