Things certainly seem to be taking shape down at Sandy Shores Resort, the growing community being formed right by the waves of Lake Diefenbaker.
The lakeside development, located just south of the Gardiner Dam Visitor Centre near the Danielson Provincial Park’s boat launch, celebrated its third anniversary on Saturday, July 6 with a daylong community event, which was kicked off with a major announcement by Sandy Shores owner Rauncie Kinnaird, who broke the news that plans are underway for a major project to be constructed at the resort.
“I’m very excited to announce the marina at Sandy Shores Resort has been approved by Parks, Culture & Sport,” said Rauncie, to cheers from the gathered crowd outside her home. “The inland marina is expected to have a minimum of 200 slips and offer ample parking. A retail area will be adjacent and offer basic confectionary and opportunities for tourism businesses to set up. There will be bathrooms, showers, laundry, a filleting shack, garbage, recycling, parks and recreational areas and additional trails.”
Sandy Shores has really taken off in the last couple of years, and Kinnaird highlights the water treatment plant, the playground and the growing amenities that are continually shaping the development into its own community. Phase 1 and 2 lots are 63% sold and Kinnaird noted that Phase 3 is already under construction.
“I believe that the quote, ‘A rising tide lifts all the boats’ is very fitting,” she said. “I see the opportunity in this area for businesses, from landscaping to home builders, and it’s exciting to be a part of.”
The news of the marina has helped Sandy Shores reach a pivotal milestone in its growth, and Kinnaird sees the potential for resulting benefits in its construction.
“There are many permits and permissions that remain, but this is a major step toward creating a major tourism hub in this area,” she said. “The marina development provides many benefits to Saskatchewan: tourism dollars are spent locally, increased awareness of the Lake Diefenbaker area and opportunities, increased RM and provincial tax base, and an increased use in revenue to nearby provincial parks.”
Kinnaird told the gathered audience that she wants to see the development help the region grow over the coming years.
“I want to see Sandy Shores Resort transform the regional economy for generations,” she said. “I feel very proud to conduct business here. This is more than a lake development, we are building a community, and of course, that takes people and a community.”
Speaking with The Outlook following the formal announcement, Rauncie touched on the initial plans for the marina, and the timely process that followed in getting things to this current stage.
“It was initially planned as part of the development,” she said. “There’s been an extensive study that’s been going on for the last two years, including a bathymetric study, hydrographic study, wind study, and preliminary engineering. It was really important to work with Parks on the land ownership, and that took a significant amount of time. The announcement just came in this last week that I was successful in the tender process.”
Although construction isn’t yet underway, Kinnaird is optimistic about the work commencing hopefully sooner rather than later.
“So, the next step is to do some geotechnical studies so we can determine the appropriate construction timeframe,” she said. “There are some additional studies that will determine our timeframe, but we hope to have construction in the next year or two.”
Kinnaird believes the marina announcement serves as a major milestone for Sandy Shores, particularly with the work that is being done in the region to help tourists access the growing area.
“I believe that this is a significant tipping point,” she said. “With the highway reconstruction and the marina, they’re very significant projects that magnify our growth.”
There is a lot of talk these days about what certain areas might need to give their respective tourism sectors a major boost. As someone who has been working for the past few years to help drive up awareness of what the Lake Diefenbaker region can offer, Kinnaird believes it comes down to the right infrastructure that will help draw eyes and attention – as well as amenities – to any particular area.
“I think that we need to consider cellular infrastructure as a basic component of infrastructure, I think that’s the additional piece that’s needed,” she said. “Then we bring in those tourism operators that bring a full experience to all of our areas. So when a lot owner is here, they’re looking for tourism experiences whether it’s hiking or restaurants or the full experience. I think with the infrastructure to support that – the retail store, the public washrooms and public amenities – hopefully we can attract those operators and give them what they need to be successful here. We want to be the hub for that.”