Letter to the Editor: Earl Frerichs

Since the April 30 issue of the Arrow Lakes News there has been plenty of reaction from the failure of the M. V. Columbia.

Since the April 30 issue of the Arrow Lakes News there has been plenty of reaction from the failure of the M. V. Columbia, in both local papers.

The Beaton Arm Crossing Association (BACA) has been pushing for a fixed link at Beaton Arm and crossing again at Sidmouth thereby retiring the ferry.  The Arrow Lakes News May 7, 2015 “This Week in History” — May 13, 1965 indicates that the Department of Highways will spend 25 million dollars in the west Kootenays for Highway improvements including a bridge over the next 5 years. Where did this go wrong? We still don’t have a fixed link, and now are looking at some 300 to 400 million dollars for a fixed link.

BACA had a booth at the AKBLG Conference, April 22-24.  Many people stopped at my booth. One couple from east of Golden indicated that they waited two and a half hours to get on the ferry and they felt it went backwards across the lake taking 45 minutes to cross, then taking ten minutes to dock. It isn’t any wonder that a round trip was two hours. I did not have one person indicate that a fixed link was the wrong idea. In fact, I had one person come running up to my booth saying “where do I sign?” I was not doing a petition but was there only to promote the fixed link. On Saturday morning one delegate told me that he now had an eight hour drive home as he was taking an alternate route because he would not go north and take a chance of another ferry delay.  Bottom line — the ferry gave us a black eye during the AKBLG Conference.

A couple of issues that don’t get much press are:

1. Ferry Operating Costs: The ferry cost the tax payers $12,876 per day or $4,700,000 per year for the current contract.  This will escalate in future years.  The cost over 25 years will exceed 250 million dollars.

2. Carbon Emissions: Carbon emissions caused by the ferries well-tuned diesel engines are 5.9 tons per day or 2154 tons per year.  This does not include emissions from idling vehicles at the ferry terminals.  How does this fit in to the Government’s 2020 GHG reduction plan?

BACA will continue to push for the building of a fixed link. To this end we have produced a promotional video.  It can be viewed at  vimeo.com/124363033. We have been having great reviews on this film.  We are also working on a power generation plan and on May 7 we met with the President and CEO of New Energy Corporation Inc. to discuss the possible generation of 8mw of power without building a dam by only using the regular flow of the river at the Sidmouth crossing. This looks very feasible!

The directors of BACA are in regular contact with the Ministry of Transport on the various issues surrounding the ferry operation and the fixed link project.

We will continue to push for the fixed link until it is completed.

Earl Frerichs

BACA President, Nakusp, BC