Floating new ideas
Summerside Sustainable Tourism Initiative updates city council on waterfront proposal
There are plans afoot to introduce some unique attractions to the City of Summerside’s waterfront.
The Summerside Sustainable Tourism Initiative (SSTI), a nonprofit group run by a board of various tourism industry stakeholders in the Summerside area, hopes to introduce at least one water taxi to the city’s waterfront in time for the 2016 tourist season.
The shallow-draft vessel, which could be solar-powered, would pick up passengers from a floating dock somewhere along the waterfront, such as Spinnakers Landing, and take visitors to local places of interest - potentially, Holman’s Island and the beach at the Indian Head Lighthouse.
It’s part of a project the SSTI leadership says has been on the books for Summerside since the redevelopment of the waterfront started in the early 2000s, but which has received renewed effort in the past year. The group updated Summerside city council on its progress during the latter’s monthly meeting Monday night.
“We have the plans in place to do it. We know, basically, what that looks like and how it would operate. Tonight’s presentation to council was to determine whether there are partnerships locally that support the concept. If there is not, then we park it, but we think it’s worth consideration, and this council has been very supportive of our efforts for the last couple of years,” said Arnold Croken, treasurer of the SSTI.
Croken, who was accompanied by SSTI chairman Ron Barrett, also explained to council that the water taxi project is part of a larger tourism concept for the Summerside harbour. Buying and operating the vessel would simply be Phase 1 of a potentially multi-phase, multi-year, project.
The vision, in its entirety, includes renovations to the Indian Head Lighthouse to include a picnic area and small gift shop, as well as shoring up the armour stones that protect the historic lighthouse, a partnership with the Prince Alex Resort, which is under construction at the western end of the city, and including the nature preserve on Holman’s Island and local fisheries as eco tourism components.
The various parts of the overall project have been estimated to cost a little under $800,000.
While Croken and Barrett didn’t outright ask council for a specific dollar amount, they say that if the city was willing to continue to support the project that it would open up funding opportunities from the provincial and federal governments and a more detailed funding arrangement would be worked out.
SSTI’s proposal comes as the city council and staff are in the midst of preparing the municipal budget for 2016.
Several councillors commented after the presentation that they liked the ideas presented and generally supported them, but most also expressed trepidation at the price tag.
However, they did like the idea of completing the project in phases, similar to how the city’s waterfront boardwalk was built.
Arnold Croken, left, and Ron Barrett, representing the Summerside Sustainable Tourism Initiative, presented a plan to Summerside City Council Monday night that includes introducing a water taxi to the community’s waterfront and upgrades to the Indian Head Lighthouse at the mouth of the city’s harbour.