After coming up short in Penticton, the owner of the Fintry Queen is setting his sights back on the moribund tourist boat’s original home—the downtown Kelowna lakeshore.
Andy Schwab, the former car ferry-turned faux stern wheeler operator who bought the boat through a court-ordered sale three years ago, has written to Kelowna’s mayor and council asking them to consider letting the Fintry Queen moor off City Park.
The Fintry Queen’s original moorage spot off Kerry Park is no longer available due to construction of a new downtown marina and walking pier at the foot of Bernard Avenue.
Scwab said he planned to move the ship to Penticton. But while council there supported him, he could not find the required financial support in that city.
He said if he is going to spend $500,000 on finding and creating a new home for the ship, he would rather do it in Kelowna.
The Fintry Queen, long a floating landmark on Kelowna’s downtown lakeshore, was pushed out by the city in 2012 when it drew up plans to redevelop the lake shore at the foot of Bernard with the new temporary-use marina and walking pier. At the time, the city was owed nearly $100,000 in back moorage fees.
The once popular tourist ship has sat, unused, offshore in Sutherland Bay, ever since.
In his letter to council, Schwab lists what he considers a number of benefits to the city of allowing the Fintry Queen to moor off the point in City Park, opposite the children’s water park.
He writes while the downtown marina and walking pier projects are now complete, there is an opportunity for the Fintry Queen to moor safety at CIty Park.
He feels the return of the boat would help attract people to the park and improve safety at night by having it there, attract private investment and jobs and “honour the past” as the ship was a Kelowna fixture for 65 years.
He said the operation would employ 60 people and provide more than $300,000 in wages and benefits and a further $500,000 in purchasing annually.
Schwab has budgeted $300,000 for construction of a seasonal wharf that could be removed in the winter without leaving a footprint on the park.
The project could also help with the city’s plans to build a boardwalk to replace the existing City Park promenade, he said.
In the winter, the ship would be moored offshore by Bear Creek or near Summerland.
Schwab said the Wibit inflatable on-the-water activity centre that has been located in the area of the proposed moorage for the last two summers could remain in its current location or move around to the other side of the point.
The city, which is not being asked to pay towards the project, would receive lease and moorage revenue from the project, he added.
Fueling could be done offshore from a fuel tender.
Schwab said he met with several members of council and Mayor Colin Basran to discuss his proposal. He admitted some councillors were undecided while Basran was opposed.