District to own Old Town boat launch

District of Sicamous ouncil amends agreement for marina proposal.

Sicamous will be gaining a public boat launch in Old Town Bay at a cost of $280,000.

A second public hearing was held last week, Feb. 10 for an amended phased development agreement (PDA) between numbered company 443602 BC Ltd. and the District of Sicamous.

Final approval of the related bylaw paves the way for the district to enter a PDA with 443602 BC Ltd. for development of Twin Anchors’ 276-slip marina and boat launch facility in Old Town Bay.

Most of the details in the amended agreement are the same as what was before the public prior to the Jan. 13 public hearing. The key difference, explained town manager Evan Parliament, was in sections of the agreement having to do with the planned public boat launch.

During the recent public hearing, community planner Mike Marrs explained council had tabled the bylaw after the last hearing, with the desire to see some changes made. He noted the previously presented PDA showed the public boat launch “would be open to the public by way of operations through the marina itself.”

“Council has desired that this boat launch be maintained as a public facility and operated as a public facility, and that is the case at this hearing and will be the case as outlined in the PDA amendment,” said Marrs.

Specifically, the former PDA had the district paying $80,000 to the developer to increase the size and capacity of their proposed boat launch to accommodate a public launch facility. The developer was to assume all operational, maintenance and replacement costs of the public portion.

With the amended PDA, the district assumes all operational, maintenance and replacement cost responsibility for the boat launch.

“The operation of the launch itself, that has yet to be discussed with council in terms of whether it’s going to be maintained and operated by district staff, or subject to some other organization or group to sort of man that facility,” said Marrs. “The developer… of the marina itself, will provide access to temporary moorage to people launching boats so they can tie up on the west side of their main entrance stop and access their vehicles and sail off from that point.”

Marrs said public parking will be available in a designated area near the launch until such time as that area is approved for development of a proposed commercial, residential structure, at which point public parking will be moved to part of the Twin Anchors Manufacturing property.

“That will be secured by restricted covenant and statutory right of way agreements, and the applicant will be providing for long-term parking on a seasonal basis as needed, as well for public parking,” said Marrs, adding a  chauffeured or valet service will run back and forth to the boat launch while the marina is in operation.

“The ramp itself will be open on a year-round basis, but probably not staffed… during the late fall or winter.”

Asked what the cost would be to the taxpayer, Parliament said an estimate provided by the Splatsin Development Corporation pegged the construction of the boat launch at about $280,000.

“The developer, as per the development agreement, is prepared to give up the water tenure in which the boat launch will sit on, they’ll build the dock that will run parallel to the boat launch, they’ll provide parking as explained by the planner, all the reports – the environmental assessment reports, the DFO, the permitting, etc. – has been paid by the developer so that will not be a cost to the district,” said Parliament.

District chief financial officer Kelly Bennett said there would be no direct impact on taxation in the current or future years.

“I believe the $280,000 is being funded through our community works fund or gas tax so it’s provincial funding that we receive…,” said Bennett.

“We also have $580,000 in the budget from previous years for the boat launch and, in essence, with our council, we are now accommodating the public now with two boat launches for what we were actually looking at considering for one boat launch at one stage two years ago,” commented Mayor Terry Rysz.

After the hearing, during the Feb. 10 council meeting, council approved a recommendation that staff apply to the Economic Opportunity Fund through the Columbia Shuswap Regional District for $100,000 for the public boat launch in Old Town. Council voted in favour, with Coun. Todd Kyllo absent and Coun. Jeff Mallmes opposed.

During the hearing and later, at question period, resident Terry Martin raised his concerns, noting 99 per cent of the taxpayers in Sicamous would never use the launch because of the parking.

Resident Marie-Paule Lacasse said she agreed with the amendment, and that the Old Town boat launch would be maintained as a public facility.