The MV Columbia ferry broke down last week — something its engineers and builders said wasn’t supposed to happen. Now it’s in for refit while the “old reliable” MV Galena is back in business. That is, after adjustments were made to accommodate it. Because the “new” ferry was never supposed to break down, there was no backup plan. It was so unimportant that the vessel brought in as a replacement had not had an inspection in more than six months. Safety concerns? Ah, who needs them when there are lineups and an angry mob forming on Facebook?
Visitors to the area are completely charmed by the “delightful” ferry ride as part of the journey. Locals? Opinions are plentiful. When it comes to the debate of ferry vs. the construction of a fixed link at Galena, our community is divided.
Some are annoyed by the inconvenience of relying on a boat to get us where we are going. They say we are more “connected” to cities further away like Vernon because the route is more reliable than the ferry at Galena. Despite the fact that Revy has a public swimming pool, maternity ward and other amenities, locals drive the Monashee to Vernon and Kelowna before choosing Revelstoke.
There are strong opinions against removing the ferry on Highway 23 — traditionalists; those who don’t like change and want the area to retain its charm. They don’t want more people discovering us. Is that forward thinking?
For those who want a bridge, they look at growth; bettering connections and the economy. More activities, the Greyhound or renting a U-Haul would be convenient. And what about logistical transport of goods?
Recently, it was discovered that the “free shipping” touted on a merchant’s website did not apply to areas this remote. A different address would not be charged the $37 being added to the $100 order. We wonder if the ferry has anything to do with it. Would a bridge make life more affordable?
The elephant in the room is that we don’t seem to be fighting harder for this bridge to be built. The “little touristy destinations” in the Selkirks don’t bear concern in future transportation plans and the Ministry of Transport holds the purse strings. We can wish and hope for a fixed link to make life easier for us, but unless someone has a few billion sitting in a coffee can somewhere to fund the endeavor, we are ferry-reliant for at least the next several generations.