The Fintry Queen is looking to ferry passengers on Okanagan Lake once again - InfoNews

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The Fintry Queen is looking to ferry passengers on Okanagan Lake once again

The Fintry Queen once ferried cars across Okanagan lake and is now being readied to cruise the lake once more.
Image Credit: Submitted/Andy Schwab
September 16, 2020 - 7:30 AM

When the Okanagan Lake Bridge opened in 1958, it was the death knell for the three ferries that plied the Narrows between Kelowna and Westbank.

Only one, the MV Lequime, remained on any kind of active duty on the lake, being converted to a replica paddlewheeler and renamed the Fintry Queen.

It went through various owners and formats from taking tourists to Fintry to being a floating restaurant to a tour boat, but it has spent most of the last decade out of operation.

Andy Schwab plans for all that to change next spring.

“I’ve always had this dream of doing the lake ferry thing,” Schwab told iNFOnews.ca. “It’s now happening. We have some funds. We’re moving forward. We’re doing renos. We’re in the process of doing these inspections and it will be running again by spring and I’ll probably be in front of all these municipal councils in the next month or two with requests to build docks.”

This was taken on the Fintry Queen's maiden voyage.
This was taken on the Fintry Queen's maiden voyage.
Image Credit: Submitted/Andy Schwab

Schwab first became involved with the Fintry Queen in 1999-2000 but ran into problems with Transport Canada when they insisted the boat be pulled out of the lake for inspection.

An Alberta group ran it for a couple of years as a restaurant boat before Schwab came back on the scene in 2010-11 when the city was negotiating on a possible wharf in conjunction with a proposed downtown hotel that still has not been built.

In 2018 Schwab tried to convince Penticton city council to allow him to build a dock in that city so the boat could tour between there, Summerland and Naramata. Nothing came of that.

Since then, he’s deliberately laid low, formed Okanagan Lake Boat Company and got some investors. The company has the same name as one that ran ferries between Summerland, Naramata and Penticton more than 100 years ago.

This is a poster from 1897 of a ferry that ran between Naramata, Penticton and Summerland.
This is a poster from 1897 of a ferry that ran between Naramata, Penticton and Summerland.
Image Credit: Submitted/Andy Schwab

He’s in the process of getting the Fintry Queen recertified by Transport Canada, saying it’s in great shape but badly needs a paint job, which he’s working on.

He’s also crunching the numbers on different business plans that range from doing multiple trips a day between, for example, Kelowna, Kalamoir Park in West Kelowna, Gellatly Bay, Okanagan Mountain Park, Bertram Creek, Cedar Creek and Okanagan Mission.

For $25 people can hop on and hop off throughout the day.

One of the possible routes for a revitalized Fintry Queen.
One of the possible routes for a revitalized Fintry Queen.
Image Credit: Submitted/Andy Schwab

Another idea is to build sleeper suites and cruise daily from one end of Okanagan Lake to the other.

But, a lot of it comes down to having some dock space.

The plan is to have investors build the docks that could then become the property of the municipalities or part of the parks.

Costs could be as high as $300,000 with a dock that has services on it, to smaller $50,000 docks. In some cases, because it was a car ferry, a couple of pilings are all that are needed so it could run up on the beach and drop its ramp.

“My problem is getting movement through city councils,” Schwab said. “I’m hoping this time they may be more receptive.”

He had hoped to tour the boat around the lake this fall, stopping at various locations to show it off but he got a late start so expects the tour to be next spring while he lobbies councils this fall.

“Other businesses will get generated off this activity and build the whole tourism thing up and down the valley,” Schwab said. “This thing going up and down the lake will be huge for tourism here.”

The boat can accommodate 325 people and, with COVID-19 rules, seat 160 safely. It’s 155 feet long.

The Fintry Queen is currently moored in the north arm of Okanagan Lake beside Okanagan Indian Band land.

Its sister ship, the MV Pendozi, now serves as the clubhouse for the West Kelowna Yacht club while the MV Lloyd-Jones was dismantled and reassembled to run between the Gulf Islands off Vancouver Island before being sold to the Dominican Republic.

READ MORE: Kelowna bridge traffic complaints? At least it's not a ferry

Schwab is looking for investors and can be contacted at info@fintryqueen.ca.


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