The MV Fintry Queen, a 325 passenger ship on Okanagan Lake, is being re-financed and re-structured to hopefully establish a passenger ferry service, the longtime dream of a man convinced there is a lucrative business and tourism boon to be found.
The ship last operated in 2008 and carried over 25,000 passengers.
“The days when a commercial operator could set up in a waterfront park are gone,” said Andy Schwab, part owner of the vessel for the last 20 years, “it has to work for the community."
Past efforts to entice local municipalities to throw support to his vision have been a mixed bag of success. Summerland council voted to voice their approval of Schwab's application to the B.C. Western Diversification Tourism Relief Fund for a grant, while also requesting further information and a detailed business plan, but Penticton council declined to do the same.
Schwab now needs to raise $1,000,000 to re-certify the ship and build new public docks, and is hoping to entice investors.
To do that, he is offering up to 49 per cent of the company to investors where they can also receive a 30 per cent BC tax credit through the BC Investment Program, to be used anytime over the next five years.
After five years, Schwab says the company will transition into a “Community Contribution Corporation” (CCC) which Revenue Canada defines as a for profit corporation, where 60 per cent of net profits are returned to the community for a social purpose.
"The Okanagan Ferry will be a hop-on/hop-off service with ticket prices for adults at $25, seniors and children for less. The ship will circle round every two to three hours. We are just beginning the early rounds of discussions with district and city planners," said Schwab.
The route Schwab envisions would operate between Summerland, Naramata and Penticton, with multiple trips per day.
Schwab anticipates the rebuild will take two to three years.
The Fintry Queen operated for 40 years out of Kelowna, welcoming about 30,000 passengers each year for tours up and down the lake.
Back in Aug. 31, 1968, along the shores of Kerry Park, "Cap" Capozzi re-christened the MV Lequime the MV Fintry.