Hailing it as a potential major draw for downtown, Kelowna city council has approved plans for a $3.2 million, privately funded pubic marina and pier at the foot of Queensway.
The project, to be built by Edmonton’s Westcorp. Properties Inc., will feature a 120-metre long pubic pier with a large breakwater/viewing deck at the end, moorage for 45 pleasure boats and separate moorage for seven commercial vessels and a fueling and potable water station.
In return for the 15-year lease and an option for another five-year term after that, as well as a $200,000 contribution from the city, Westcorp would build, maintain and operate the marina and pier and collect any revenues generated by it.
“I’m very excited about this,” said Coun. Luke Stack, echoing the sentiments from other councillors that the project has been a long time in coming. He said he believes it will be as big a draw in the summer for locals and visitors to the downtown as the public skating rink is in nearby Stuart Park in the winter.
His colleague, Coun. Robert Hobson agreed, saying he was glad to see the contract went a company that already owns property in the area, meaning it will have a vested interest in ensuring a quality development.
Westcorp was the company behind the failed CD-21 zone plan for the redevelopment of the area around the foot of Bernard Avenue three years ago.
It has property adjacent to the proposed marina location that it wants to develop.
The city has wanted to have a marina and public pier built on the lakeshore downtown for several years and Coun. Colin Basran said such a project was long overdue.
“It’s hard to believe that a city by the lake doesn’t have a facility like this already.”
But while the marina will include slips for commercial boats, one long-time lakeshore resident will not be included.
City parks and public space projects manger Andrew Gibbs told council none of the groups vying for the right to build the new marina included plans for the Fintry Queen in their proposals.
The the faux paddlewheeler,which for years plied the waters of the lake as a tourist ship and floating restaurant, has been tied up at its berth at off Kerry Park for several years.
Under a court-ordered attempt to sell the ship, large debts are owned to the the city for outstanding moorage bills and to the former owner who holds a mortgage on the ship.
The city has ordered the Fintry Queen to be removed if an owner is not found in the next month.
Gibbs said only one offer has been made the Fintry Queen but the courts rejected that offer.
If the Fintry Queen has to be removed the city would take it to a docking point in Sutherland Bay.
Meanwhile, plans for the marina call for construction to start in December and for it to be complete by next April in time for the 2013 boating season.
But in order for that to happen, approvals must be granted for the work by both the province and the federal government and Gibbs admitted that the getting those approvals could take time.