A draft rendering of what a public campground located on the former Waterway Houseboats property could look like. (District of Sicamous Image)

Proposed Waterway property purchase in hands of Sicamous development corporation

Acquisition a step towards self-sufficiency for district-owned agency

The planned purchase of the former Waterway Houseboats for a campground and public park is intended to be a step toward self-sufficiency for the District of Sicamous Development Corporation (DOSDC).

The corporation, which is wholly owned by the District of Sicamous, was created in 2018.

The DOSDC recently announced an offer to purchase the Waterway property was accepted by the receiver who took over the site after the houseboat company folded in June.

Evan Parliament, the District of Sicamous town manager, serves as CEO of the development corp. He sits on its board along with district chief financial officer Kelly Bennett, SASCU Sicamous branch manager Eldon Kralkay and local business people Peter Schrama and Brenda Dalzell. As mayor of Sicamous, Terry Rysz also has a seat on board.

The development corporation handles economic development projects which benefit the district, as Parliament said their goals include attracting a hotel to the area, promoting affordable housing, downtown revitalization projects and anything that increases the number of jobs available in the area.

Pending the approval of a new municipal and regional district tax — or hotel tax — by the province and the Columbia Shuswap Regional District, Parliament said the development corporation will manage the money collected and work with local hotels to market Sicamous as a destination to the rest of the world.

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The District of Sicamous has been funnelling money to the development corporation annually beginning with an initial investment of $60,000 that has grown to just over $100,000 a year. Parliament said the money is used for hiring consultants and taking other steps to promote its projects.

He said that development corporations typically need three to five years to become self-sufficient, with the DOSDC on track to no longer need the endowment from the District of Sicamous by its fifth year in operation.

“That is the plan, that the company makes money and that every nickel we make, any profit we make on any of our ventures goes right back into the community,” Parliament said.

The acquisition of the Waterway property and the campground project is the DOSDC’s biggest initiative yet.

Parliament said informing the public their offer to purchase the Waterway property had been accepted — pending financing, an environmental assessment and a business case being developed by a consultant — was done to help gauge public opinion on the project.

He said the majority of public response so far has been positive.

Further feedback is being accepted through the District of Sicamous’ website, www.sicamous.ca.

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Parliament said the DOSDC is working with SASCU to get the financing necessary to purchase the Waterway property.

He said the District of Sicamous can guarantee the loan for the first five years without requiring voter approval through a referendum or alternative approval process.

Parliament says a business case for the purchase of the Waterway Houseboats property and its development into a campground along with terms of financing will be completed soon.

As the property is being sold as part of receivership proceedings, the sale will have to go before the courts for final approval in late January.

Parliament said the development corporation hopes to expand with office space and part-time staff, requesting funds from the district to do so during their 2020 budget deliberations.

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