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Historic Okanagan ferry looking for investors so it can stay afloat

The Fintry Queen is once again putting out the call for help.

The 325-passenger ship is looking into refinancing and restructuring so that it can begin offering travel services again.

According to Andy Schwab, co-owner of the Fintry Queen, the ship last operated in 2008 and carried more than 25,000 passengers.

“I leased the boat originally on a lease-purchase deal back in the year 2000,” said Schwab.

“I ran it for two years and (it) was not so successful the first year. (It) was very successful the second year, and we were going to go gangbusters in the third, but I ran across Transport Canada.”

Schwab says Transport Canada denied the ship an inspection — which is what it needed to continue sailing — because there wasn’t the space to do one.

According to Transport Canada’s terms, the boat needed a harbour where it could be dry-docked. No such thing exists in the Okanagan.

Schwab is advocating for the vessel, but says continuous roadblocks have left The Fintry sitting empty on the water.

His goal is to see the boat in full operation again.

“My idea is to see it run as a ferry again, to be able to go into the park, stop at the winery, stop at (the) resorts and travel all around the lake,” said Schwab.

But to do so, Schwab says he needs to raise $1 million to rectify the ship. He says this will also build a new public dock for loading and unloading passengers.

Schwab told Global News he believes he now has a ‘winning formula’ that will entice investors.

“I have now a tax credit, which is a 30-percent tax credit to B.C. investors. It’s attractive for some. And those early investors, if they put their money in the boat, it’s very profitable,” said Schwab.

He continued, saying after five years, the company will transition into a community contribution corporation, which Revenue Canada defines as a for-profit corporation. As a CCC, 60 per cent of net profits are returned to the community for a social purpose.

Schwab said they are entering the early stages of discussions, and that it’s a two to three-year process to put everything in place. He’s hoping to have everything up and running by 2024.

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