NAKUSP — Delays and slow passage times from Shelter Bay to Galena are about to be irritants of the past once the new ferry is completed and launched from here into the Columbia River.
Curious Revelstokians Peter Bernacki, Albert Van Goor, Chamber Executive Director and City Councillor Chris Johnston visited Nakusp to gauge the progress on the new $26.5 million ferry project that was awarded by the province to WaterBridge Steel Inc. in 2012.
“Everything is cut in Vancouver and shipped here for assembly,” WaterBridge owner John Harding told his visitors during a tour of the shipyard on March 28. “It’s quite efficient.”
He said the shipyard was erected right on the Upper Arrow at the the old Columbia Shake and Shingle Mill just off Highway 23S as you enter the village.
“It needed a lot of work to be transformed into a shipyard,” Harding said.
WaterBridge has hired 50 people for the project and the wages they earn are a godsend for the 1,500-person village of Nakusp. In the past ten years Nakusp has lost its Pope & Talbot logging operation and its summer music festival. Mayor Karen Hambling said those losses hurt the economy.
“This project means jobs and money we need in our economy,” she said.
This new ferry will be massive. The vessel will be 320 feet long, 64 feet wide and weigh approximately 2.5 million pounds or 1,100 metric tons. It will have a captain and a crew of five and will carry 80 cars at a time. The existing — and inadequate — MV Shelter Bay and MV Galena Bay can only carry 36 and 32 cars at a time.
“The Galena will be retained as a backup ferry,” Harding said.
“We have to be completely done by the May long weekend of 2014,” Harding said.