Salmon Arm  

Sicamous council will consider free ferry to take passengers from downtown to start of rail trail

Free ferry floated for rail trail

A free ferry service to get people from Sicamous to the start of the Shuswap North Okanagan Rail Trail will soon be considered by Sicamous councillors.

At the District of Sicamous committee of the whole meeting on Wednesday, the district's development corporation board of directors is set to present a business plan for a proposed free ferry service across the Sicamous Narrows Channel.

According to the business plan report, the ferry service aims to mitigate concerns about getting half a kilometre to the starting point of the rail trail from downtown Sicamous.

“The Sicamous Narrows Channel ferry service will operate between the Sicamous Narrows docks and the lift station landing on the west side, directly across from Martin Street,” reads the report.

“This service is designed to offer [Sicamous North Okanagan Rail Trail] users a safe, efficient, and enjoyable means of accessing the Rail Trail, bypassing the need to cross the potentially hazardous Bruhn Bridge and reducing trail-end congestion due to parking options on the west side.”

Residents who spoke out against the rezoning bylaw amendment for the rail trail at the public hearing frequently brought up the hazards of having rail users cross the R.W. Bruhn Bridge on foot.

The business plan report also said they have secured parking for potential ferry passengers.

“Besides the current downtown parking options, a parking contract has been secured.” reads the report.

“This lot can accommodate over 200-plus cars, trucks and trailers, addressing the critical need for safe and convenient parking. A parking fee structure is being reviewed, with options to staff the lot or implement a ticketing system. This will alleviate the concern for parking on the west side.”

The business plan report proposes funding the ferry service entirely through advertising and parking fees.

“The ferry service is envisioned to operate free of charge, with operational costs supported by advertising sponsors and excess covered by parking revenue,” the report reads.

“This model not only ensures the service’s sustainability but also encourages community and business involvement through sponsorship opportunities.”

The business plan report will be discussed at the District of Sicamous committee of the whole meeting at 1 p.m. on Wednesday.

The meeting also has a proposed motion on the agenda to direct staff to set the date for a public hearing for the reconsideration of zoning amendment Bylaw 1044 which is the necessary bylaw to begin construction on the Sicamous section of the rail trail.

That motion proposes that the public hearing be held April 10 at the Red Barn Arts Centre at 5 p.m.

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