The site of a major Sicamous tourist attraction, which went into receivership earlier this year, could be getting a new lease on life.
The District of Sicamous and its development corporation are hoping to buy the former Waterway Houseboats site on Mara Lake for $2-million and turn it into a public beachfront park and campground.
The project is, in part, an attempt to bolster the local economy after the closure of the major tourist draw last June.
Sicamous’ mayor said the goals are to make the region more inviting to tourists and help support local businesses by drawing visitors to the area.
Mayor Terry Rysz said there are roughly “850,000 RVs roaming around British Columbia every year” and he hopes this project will see more of them stopping off in Sicamous.
“When we get this built out I think it is going to be pretty popular because just look at this, this is a beautiful spot,” he said, standing on the rocky beach the district hopes will become the focal point of the new public park.
Although the agreed purchase price is $2-million, the mayor says the project won’t become a burden to the tax base because it will be the development corporation not the municipality buying the land and revenue from the campground will be used to pay down the project’s debt.
“Eventually the revenue source will start to support the community once this complex and this project is paid for,” Rysz.
Although the development corporation’s purchase offer has been accepted by the receiver, the sale could still fall through if the deal doesn’t get court approval or certain conditions aren’t met.
The mayor admits there is still lots of work to do to ensure the project is viable noting the area is on a flood plane and below a local landfill.
However, if everything checks out, the deal is expected to closed by the end February.
Ideally, the district wants to start construction right away so the first phase of campsites is operating on the site next summer.
Rysz said the municipality estimates those first 50 campsites could generate $600,000 to $650,000 in revenues in the first year.
The mayor stresses that the district and development corporation are not looking to compete with existing local houseboat businesses and will not be setting a houseboat rental service at the location.