Fintry Queen gets new lease on life

The Fintry Queen has another lease on life – or so it seems. Confirmation has been received that the bill of sale has now been registered with Transport Canada in Ottawa, completing the court sale process and freeing the ship from all previous liens and debts.

"It has been a long process, that started more than a year ago," says Andy Schwab, President of Okanagan Lake Boat Company Inc.

"Without the assistance of Leona Baxter at A.B. Oland & Co., who navigated the legal waters, Geord Holland at Pushor Mitchell LLP, support from the City of Kelowna and cooperation from the creditors, this would not have happened. Now we take the next step, finding a home and a future."

The original "Okanagan Lake Boat Company" was established in Naramata in 1897, and Schwab sees a future in public transportation on the lake -- linking communities, parks, wineries and resorts.

"We are working with Kelowna city staff on a request to construct a new smaller temporary pier for the ship in front of the former park pavilion building in City Park", says Schwab.

"There is power, water and sewer in that area that once serviced the pavilion building and former restaurant.  A tender has just closed to build permanent washrooms facilities in that area, so we are hoping to be able to tie into that construction, build a small temporary loading pier at no cost to the city and be ready to open this summer."

Schwab hopes to operate daily service between Gellatly Bay to downtown Kelowna, plus service to Fintry Provincial Park on Saturdays, with stops at several communities and parks along the way.

The group projects 20,000 passengers will ride the boat in the first year, with the number of passengers rising to  between 30,000-40,000 passengers by 2015. Tickets are expected to be $10 for adults and $6 for children.

The Okanagan Lake Boat Company intends to raise $250,000 to get the Fintry Queen started, including $100,000 for new docks, $50,000 to bring the ship's certificates up to date and $50,000 on renovations.

"Most of the improvements we will make will be cosmetic,” says Schwab, who plans to raise capital through a limited partnership or public offering.

“The main engines were rebuilt and are very economical to run. Fuel costs are just $25 an hour to cruise at 6-8 knots and carry 326 passengers.  That works out to $0.08 per person per hour, an enviable environmental achievement.

"Once we have a loading pier, we can complete the financing. We anticipate a lot of support from the local tourism businesses who stand to improve sales based on the increased tourist traffic generated by the Fintry Queen.  We hope to create for everyone in this valley, a piece of our history and a memorable experience".

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