Just under a year after Waterway Houseboats entered receivership, boats were sailing from their former property on the shore of Mara Lake under the name Sicamous Houseboats.
According to Barb Scott, “admiral of the fleet” at the newly minted company, they took possession of the property in February. After navigating the challenges of getting up and running under the spectre of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sicamous Houseboats had their first sailing on June 1.
Scott said the company had fairly light bookings through June and the first half of July, but were on pace for a strong rest of the summer as the number of boats out on the water increases.
The Shuswap Houseboats fleet is made up of 33 boats of which the company owns eight. The remainder are managed on behalf of outside owners like they were when Waterway was operating.
Along with the houseboat business, Scott said plans are in the works to develop the portion of the property across Highway 97A from the houseboat docks. The adjacent property will be turned into a 60-space RV park that will be open year round in order to give snowmobilers a place to stay when heading for the area’s mountains during the winter. Scott said a lodge and cabins geared towards winter campers are also a possibility.
The opening of the new houseboat company is also restoring some of the 51 jobs lost when Waterway entered receivership. Scott said roughly 35 staff are currently working for the new houseboat company; she added that most of the Waterway employees who lost their jobs were contacted and some returned. Others had found work elsewhere or left Sicamous. Scott estimated about half of their current staff are former waterway employees.
Now that they are up and running and taking reservations, Scott said she hopes to see plenty of people out houseboating before the end of the summer.
“We won’t be the biggest houseboat company on the lake but we plan to be the friendliest and the most fun.”