Posted on 27 May 2011 by admin
OSOYOOS TIMES-May 25, 2011
By Paul Everest – Osoyoos Times
The Town of Osoyoos could be picking up the tab for the boat slips that are set to be installed at the Lions Bay Marina.
At a special meeting on May 20, Osoyoos council gave first, second and third readings to an amendment to the Town’s Five Year Financial Plan that, if approved, would allow the Town to contribute $173,272 towards the purchase of the boat slips.
The costs of the marina project are being split evenly between the Town and Osoyoos Shoreline Development Ltd., the developers of the Watermark Beach Resort.
The developers, however, have informed the Town that due to poor economic conditions, they have chosen to delay their contribution to to the purchase of the docks until late fall or the spring of 2012.
In order for the first phase of the marina project, which includes the installation of 32 boat slips within the Lions Park lagoon, to be completed before the summer, Town staff recommended to council that the Town pay the full costs of purchasing the slips.
Barry Romanko, the Town’s chief administrative officer, told council that even though the resort’s developers would not be contributing to this part of the marina project, they have spent a great deal of cash on other aspects of the project.
The cash for the purchase of the slips would come out of parkland development cost charges (DCCs) collected by the Town.
At the May 20 meeting, from which councillors Michael Ryan and Ted Cronmiller were absent, Coun. Margaret Chadsey asked Town staff about the long-term consequences of the Town owning all 32 slips when they were supposed to be split evenly with the developer.
She wanted to know if, should the financial plan amendment bylaw be adopted, the Town should begin developing a strategy on how to use the slips.
Romanko responded that the Town can’t brush off the developers from using some of the slips for the resort’s guests since the developers have partnered with the Town on the marina project and have contributed financially in good faith on other aspects of the marina.
He said the Town will have to look at creating an operating agreement for the slips with the developers and added that the immediate concern is having money available for the purchase and installation of the slips so the marina project can move forward in a timely manner.
Glen Harris, Osoyoos Shoreline Developments’ project manager, said uncertain economic times and the construction delays are the reasons the developers are reluctant to invest in the docks right now.
The developers have already paid roughly $450,000, or 40 per cent of the costs associated with the marina project and intend to pay the Town back for the docks.
Council had awarded a tender to Greyback Construction on May 16 to carry out the installation of the boat slips at the lagoon for $346,543.
Greyback is currently working on the first part of Phase 1 of the marina project by dredging and draining the lagoon while building a perimeter wall around the lagoon.
The first part of Phase 1 was delayed for more than a month for several reasons including the discovery of an endangered turtle at the site.
It is now hoped that Phase 1, including the installation of the slips, will be completed by June 17 in advance of the summer tourist season.
Mayor Stu Wells was the lone member of council who voted against giving the first three readings to the amendment bylaw because he is concerned about the delays in the marina’s construction.
He said after the meeting that he wants the first part of Phase 1 substantially completed before the Town devotes any cash to the purchase and installation of boat slips.
If construction crews can’t complete the dredging and draining work at the lagoon by June 17 and the docks are installed later in the summer, Wells said, there won’t be enough time left in the season for the slips to generate the kind of revenue needed to make the marina project viable this year.
He added that the delays experienced so far during Phase 1 construction have cost roughly $18,000 and he believes there could be further delays caused by rising water levels in the Okanagan and Similkameen river systems that will lead to more delay-of-construction costs.
Therefore, Wells wants to have the first part of Phase 1 completed and the total costs related to construction delays calculated before the Town starts considering the boat slips.
“There’s enough questions out there that I want to be in go-slow mode.”
Wells also said if the Town waits on the boat slip component of Phase 1, it could look at devoting provincial Resort Municipality funding towards the project, instead of the Town’s DCC cash, since half of the boat slips are meant for tourists anyway.
Romanko said at the May 20 meeting that construction crews are making every effort to finish Phase 1 by June 17, but obviously they are at the mercy of nature.
A representative from Greyback was not available for comment before press time.
Romanko said the question before council is whether or not they want to see the 32 boat slips in the water in time for the busy summer season.
Chadsey said she does not support the Town covering the developers’ commitment to the slips but added that she does support the marina project.
She said even if the developers do not help out with this component of the marina’s construction, the community will still have a much-needed marina facility.
In the end, Chadsey and Coun. CJ Rhodes voted in favour of the readings for the amendment bylaw while Wells opposed.
A public hearing on the proposed Five-Year Financial Plan amendment bylaw is scheduled for 2 p.m. on June 6 in council chambers.