UPDATE – Three Buoys formally announces plans for Mara Lake College in Sicamous

Stalled resort development project to find new life as post-secondary educational facility.

Three Buoy's stalled condominium project on Riverside Ave. may find new life as the Shuswap's next college campus

Updated Feb. 14

Could Sicamous become the Shuswap’s next college campus town?

It appears to be heading in that direction with the proposed construction of Mara Lake College.

Three Buoys’ Todd Millar acknowledges there’s already been a lot of buzz behind the scenes about the company’s stalled resort development on Riverside Avenue becoming a post-secondary institution. Talk moved beyond closed doors Wednesday morning when Millar, at the district committee of the whole meeting, formally announced Three Buoys’ intentions to make Mara Lake College a reality.

Although a college in name, Millar refers to the proposed institution as an education and wellness centre, that would primarily serve as a preparatory school, but also offer post-secondary courses.

“When I think about wellness, it’s public swimming, it’s a spa, it’s a group services entity, it’s a banquet facility… when you think about that wellness piece, I’m not talking about something that’s way out there. it’s something core to your community,” Millar told the committee.

The preparatory school component of the school would be its anchor. Envisioned is a 120-dorm facility that would allow students to live and learn onsite. A proposed mission statement for the school is to “transform adults seeking a university education into students destined for academic success through mastery of first-year studies.”

Explaining the origins of the concept, Millar went back to 2009 when Three Buoys was in the process of building a 35-condo resort. Then the global economic meltdown occurred. This, Millar explained, had a severe impact on the recreation/ resort industry and, subsequently, left the company sitting on an incomplete $10 million investment with a questionable future.

“I can tell you, from all the reviews we’ve done and all the industry experts we’ve talked to, that industry is in a sad situation and, quite frankly, all of the current stats I’m seeing, on a North American basis, it will take five years at 2006 selling rates to sell out or get rid of all of the existing inventory that’s in the market place,” said Millar. “If you understand that comment, you would say the last thing you want to do today is build a resort.”

Eventually, Three Buoys came around to the idea of creating an educational facility. Millar told the News that a different concept was initially envisioned, a resort school where students would live, learn and work onsite. But he said this brought the focus back to an industry that’s having a difficult time. So, the company began looking at other educational options. Millar says Three Buoys spoke with any expert in the education field willing to speak with them, and over time the prep-school concept began taking shape.

“The more we introduced ourselves to the educational industry, we kept coming back to this recurring theme – there seems to be a need for preparing high school kids for their next venture into post-secondary education,” says Millar.

“As we started to explore the different schools that are out there and what makes them successful, the recurring theme was you do them onsite, you do them in kind of a dormitory-style living, with specific courses that are geared toward the ability to transfer to post-secondary schools of your choice…”

Three Buoys, Millar explained, would provide the “hardware,” the building and infrastructure, while the “software,” the academic components, would be provided by an established educational institution. For that, the company has been in discussion Okanagan College. Jim Barmby, dean for the Shuswap/Revelstoke region, says the college has been exploring the possibility for some sort of partnership with Three Buoys.

“There’s nothing on paper – we’re just exploring some possibilities and we want to act in the best interest of the people of Sicamous, which is in our region,” says Barmby.

Millar recognizes that such a sustainable, educational institution could have numerous beneficial spin-offs for Sicamous. Mayor Darrell Trouton is in agreement.

“The Three Buoys project is inspirational in a way,” says Trouton. “The educational facility that they’re talking about, Mara Lake College, opens an opportunity for visionaries to seek so many opportunities in Sicamous.”

Construction/reconstruction of the facility is expected to begin in late 2012, early 2013, with the opening tentatively slated for either the fall of 2013 or the spring of 2014.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

North Okanagan Minor Lacrosse cancels box season

COVID-19 wipes out indoor lacrosse; group hopeful outdoor field season will start in August

Vancouver Foundation grants benefit Okanagan-Shuswap residents

Grants of up to $500 available for ideas that connect people socially or involve sharing skills

UPDATED: Two sent to hospital by air ambulance following Enderby highway accident

Drivers involved in collision on Highway 97A in Enderby; serious, but not life-threatening injuries

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Public can attend essential CSRD meetings again

Four members of the public are all that can be accomodated in the board room with social distancing.

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Water quality advisory rescinded for Central Okanagan system

Turbidity levels improve enough to rescind advisory issued for Killiney Beach system May 11

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Summerland once had Old English theme

Design guidelines were introduced in late 1980s

Most Read