Saturday April 19, 2014

Marina welcome without tax dollars

It’s ready — and it didn’t take government money.

While hardly the season that gets most people thinking about sun, sand and splashes, Tobiano Resort made the welcome announcement this week that it will begin taking reservations for its 110 boat slips, with another 100 in the second phase.

The groundwork for the marina was done years ago, during better times for Tobiano. One of the criteria for approval of removing farmland from the Agricultural Land Reserve was development of the boat launch.

That launch facility, one of only two on the lake, slowly helped drive boat traffic to Kamloops Lake, long an underappreciated asset.  Increasing public use of Kamloops Lake was part of the pitch from original developer Mike Grenier, who used it as one of his many arrows to convince government officials the project was in the “provincial interest” and thus worthy of a special exclusion from the ALR.

Under Grenier the resort always had a marina on the books. The gas dock on the lake has been in place for a decade.

While those assets have helped drive boaters to the lake, what’s been missing is a place to park and protect a boat.

Prior to financial problems that drove the resort into receivership, Grenier sought public loans or grants to develop the resort.

The idea for public money on a private asset was first heard following the 2008 financial crisis, when Grenier touted the scheme as a job creator.

But the idea of taxpayer subsidy for the marina didn’t catch the fancy of government — nor should it.

The million dollars that went into realignment of the Trans-Canada Highway, and its giant berm, was a poor decision by the B.C. Liberal government. There’s no sound reason that poor decision should have been followed by more wasteful spending of tax dollars on a private facility.

Since its financial problems surfaced, placing it in receivership, the resort has struggled to return to sound footing. The golf course recently came out of receivership when it was purchased by private developers.

The remainder of the resort is being developed and operated by the receiver, with plenty of activity that will now include moorage of boats. The marina itself was built by Bruker Developments, which will operate it and collect revenues.

It all promises to make fun on the water more available for city residents and tourists alike. No government money needed.

We Say editorials represent the viewpoint of The Daily News and are written by publisher Tim Shoults, city editor Tracy Gilchrist, or associate news editors Dan Spark and Mark Rogers.

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