September 14, 2013 - 8:30 AM
OWNER TO MAKE SEPT. 23 COUNCIL PRESENTATION
PENTICTON - The SS Sicamous might get some company if the owner of the MV Fintry Queen has his way.
The boat does not have an official home and is currently moored in Sutherland Bay, just north of the Tolko mill in Kelowna. It was once docked off Bernard Avenue, but attempts by owner Andy Schwab to make the Fintry Queen part of the revitalization project in that area were unsuccessful. The Bernard Ave dock in Kelowna is being re-shaped to look after the city's growing number of boaters and the 325-person dining craft will have no place to moor.
Schwab moved his campaign to West Kelowna in February. Should he fail in West Kelowna, Schwab wants permission to operate the boat out of a dock he'll build next to the Kiwanis Pier in Penticton. Schwab would pay an estimated $250,000 out of his own pocket for the dock and cover the costs of the electrical, water and sewer hookups.
From his proposed dock he would sail around Okanagan Lake, picking up passengers from almost every lakeshore community where they can get off at the next destination or stay on-board for an extended tour of valley wineries. The marketing veteran expects the business to be successful.
He says the boat is ready as the previous owners have spent $800,000 on mechanical upgrades and it requires only cleaning and exterior decorative work.
"It needs paint, there's a few spider webs and a lot of goose droppings on it. If it was in anything other than excellent mechanical condition I wouldn't go near it," he said.
Acting Mayor Wesley Hopkin says it's too early to comment as only city staff have spoken with Schwab. Economic development officer Colleen Pennington says the city will decide what is appropriate for its waterfront.
The boat owner says staff appeared enthusiastic. He says the craft is an Okanagan attraction which will draw people downtown and generate employment and income for local goods and services as well as connecting cross-lake communities. Instead of having a tour bus drive from Naramata through Penticton to Summerland, passengers can take the Fintry Queen. They'll have lunch when they cross the lake and get off on the other side where their tour bus will be waiting.
He says the previous owners, a mix of investors from Calgary and Victoria, were careless with their investment. Schwab explains the boat is a floating restaurant and like an eatery, the owner has to keep an eye on the business to be successful.
Many Kelowna residents would like the vessel to operate out of Kelowna, he says and thinks there's plenty of public support but little coming from city council. But if Penticton is the Queen's new home it does not mean bye-bye to Kelowna.
Penticton would just be the place the boat operates from and where it gets maintained, he says. The craft can sail north and go back and forth from Kelowna to Vernon on the weekend and do trips from Penticton to Summerland to Naramata to wherever during the week.
To contact a reporter for this story, to send photos or videos, email Shannon Quesnel at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 250-488-3065, tweet @shannonquesnel1 or @InfoNewsPentict
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013