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Okanagan Lake water taxi arrives as rockslide keeps Highway 97 closed

Luxury Lake Tours can take people from Peachland to Summerland
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Calvin Barr from the Okanagan’s Luxury Lake Tours has launched a new water taxi service from Peachland to Summerland, as Highway 97 remains closed due to a rockslide. (Submitted/Luxury Lake Tours)

As a rockslide keeps Highway 97 north of Summerland closed, a water taxi service has been launched to fill the void.

A brand-new boat service is planning to take impacted travellers on a ride this Labour Day weekend down Okanagan Lake, from Peachland to Summerland, starting Friday morning, Sept. 1.

“We’re trying to save our (tourism) season,” said Calvin Barr, who’s owned Luxury Lake Tours for eight years. “It’s a double-edged thing…we’re trying to make a couple of dollars but we’re also trying to help people.”

After sharing his idea on social media, Barr heard back from car dealerships, wedding attendees and people at the Kelowna airport within a matter of hours.

Everyone has their own story but they all share the common ground in needing to get around the Okanagan, he added.

Barr says one of his three boats will leave the Pentowna Marina in Peachland and make its way to Summerland, transporting people past the site of the rockslide. His first trip is set to begin Friday between 7 and 8 a.m., with a return ride scheduled at 5 p.m.

He plans on offering multiple rides a day through the long weekend.

Up to 12 people can fit on one boat and trips will take about 40 minutes.

“If the demand is there, we’ll keep adding trips and I’m thinking this is really going to ramp up after this weekend if the road is still closed,” said Barr, adding that he already has insurance, licensed captains ready to make his vision a reality.

Roundtrip rides cost $75 per person, with one-way trips going for $50.

Highway 97 between Peachland and Summerland has been closed since Monday, Aug. 28 and will remain closed throughout the Labour Day long weekend because of a rockslide. The damage from the slide is blocking the highway between Callan Road and Okanagan Lake Provincial Park for 1.6 kilometres.

Four properties within the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen remain under evacuation alert, due to its threat.

The Ministry of Transportation said Wednesday that a geotechnical assessment has identified further risk of rockfall, hence why the stretch of highway won’t be reopening before Labour Day.

READ ALSO: Penticton MLA pushing for better alternatives to Highway 97 slide detours

Above all reasons for launching the service, Barr says traveller safety remains his No. 1 priority.

“We don’t want to put people in an unsafe spot,” the West Kelowna resident said.

“I care about my community and would love to help where I can.”

People interested in booking spots on Barr’s water taxi are asked to contact 250-859-4187, or visit luxurylaketours.com.

READ ALSO: Rockslide near Summerland closes Highway 97 for Labour Day long weekend


@lgllockhart
logan.lockhart@pentictonwesternnews.com



About the Author: Logan Lockhart

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