The city has handed the Fintry Queen its floating papers.
Late Tuesday, the man trying to drum up interest in the idle former tourist boat, received word from the city that the current owner has until Oct. 17 to present a plan for the vessel’s removal from its current berth off Kerry Park downtown.
The city’s removal notice gives the owner, a Calgary businessman who holds a $1.5 million mortgage on the Fintry Queen, until March 1, 2012, to actually remove the boat.
“Actually, I see this as the catalyst for something being done,” said Andy Schwab, who operated the Fintry Queen in 1999 and 2000 and has volunteered to help court-appointed owner Greg Chessor, of Calgary, sell the vessel.
Schwab held an open house on board the boat Wednesday and said about 80 people showed up.
He said from that group there were some expressions of interests, including from a representative of a group based in Europe.
While nearly $1.7 million is owed on the Fintry Queen—$1.5 million to Chessor, $110,000 to the Cove Marina resort for damage the ship did to its dock, $39,000 to the province for wages owed to former staff and $79,000 to the city for moorage fees in 2009—Schwab believes someone could get the ship for a fraction of that because all four creditors are willing to negotiate.
The city’s removal notice says it will remove the Fintry Queen itself if no plan is presented and seek to recover the cost of the move as well as all unpaid moorage fees and electricity costs owing.
Schwab said he fears if that happens the one popular tourist attraction will be moved somewhere out of the way, sit idle for another few years and eventually be cut up for scrap.
“Unless a buyer can be found in the short term, this action by the city will likely doom this vessel to the scrap pile,” said Schwab.
“A unique heritage attraction that has transported thousands of residents and travellers on Okanagan Lake will be lost forever.”
He said hundreds of thousands of dollars of new equipment, including engines, wiring and new fire suppression equipment were installed just before the boat stopped operating in 2008.
The city wants the Fintry Queen gone to revamp and expand the current Kelowna Marina on the downtown lakeshore.
Schwab feels the boat, with its restaurant, would make a viable business venture but he admitted up to now no one has come forward.
The Fintry Queen is a former car and passenger ferry that plied the waters of Okanagan Lake from the late 1940s to the mid-1950s.
In the 1960s it was fitted with a cosmetic paddlewheel and reborn as a boat that offered tourist and dinner cruises on the lake.