Effective Dec. 31 the DEV Galena ferry will be taken out of service.
The decision, made by the Ministry of Transportation-Marine Branch-Inland, was announced in 2014 when news broke that a new ferry, the MV Columbia, was being built to service the area.
“The ministry has maintained the DEV Galena as a back-up for the MV Columbia during the two-year warranty period of the new ship,” said Sonia Lowe, public affairs officer for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. “The DEV Galena is at the end of its service life and will be retired.
The Galena ferry has been in service since 1968. It currently serves as a backup ferry for the crossings at Galena Bay-Shelter Bay, Needles-Fauquier, and the Arrow Park crossing.
This isn’t the first time residents have had issues in regard to the ferry crossings.
In 2002 the government of the day dramatically cut back ferry services in the region. Three hours of operation were lost at the Shelter Bay and the Needles ferry lost its 24-hour service.
For three years a letter campaign took place in an effort to get the lost schedules back in place. In 2008 those schedules were reintroduced.
When residents in the area first learned about the Galena’s decommission, many took to social media in an effort to voice their outrage and anger over the decision.
Not having backup service for any of the three Arrow Lakes crossings is a major concern to the schools, health care industry and economy. Many residents in the area depend on the ferry service, especially if they need to travel to cities like Revelstoke or Vernon for medical appointments.
Major businesses such as the Interior Health Authority, and Overwaitea Foods, are also concerned over the lack of a backup ferry at the terminals.
Many have questioned what will happen if a breakdown on the MV Columbia occurs.
“The Columbia was designed and built to be as robust and reliable as possible, with the appropriate capacity to handle demand,” said Lowe. “It is equipped with hatches to facilitate the quick replacement of propulsion equipment, and the operator has a full set of replacement parts for all major components.”
Lowe also added that in addition, the vessel’s equipment and systems can be fully serviced from the car deck or inside the vessel itself.
In the unlikely event the ferry does break down and requires repairs, residents will still be able to reach their destinations.
“While it may be an inconvenience for motorists, there is road access in the unlikely event of an extended mechanical issue with MV Columbia,” said Lowe. “Needles and Arrow Park are cable ferries and can be moved by tug in the event of a mechanical problem.”
At least one petition to keep the Galena in service has been circulating in Nakusp so far. Residents are being encouraged to contact their local Member of the Legislative Assembly with their concerns.