Big issues for Big Fish Bay

Trampoline park the latest idea

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Big Fish Bay resort has plans to set up an indoor trampoline park at its resort on the edge of Slave Lake. Council got the lowdown on that, which included a request for a variance on a term of the agreement with the town that says nothing can be constructed within 80 metres of Caribou Trail. That turned out to be just the first of the issues Big Fish has with the terms of its lease.

The trampoline park would be housed in a large building, council heard. Besides the variance on location, Big Fish is concerned about the property tax obligation that would come with it.

If the taxes are too high, “I don’t know if we can afford to put up that building,” said Willie Driedger.

Edie Klassen gave council a rundown of what Big Fish Bay has been contributing to the town, each of the past few years. There are two amounts; taxes and a percentage of gross revenue (the town leases the land from the province and in turn leases it to the business). Both figures have been going up significantly each year – the taxes because property value assessment is rising and the other figure because Big Fish Bay keeps adding sites and making more money. Klassen said taxes went from $15,000 last year to $28,000 this year. If that trend continues, she said, they might not be able to make the trampoline park work.

“It’s very risky,” she said. “Many trampoline parks have failed.”

Every business faces the same risk, pointed out mayor Tyler Warman. If we started handing out tax breaks, who would we pick?

But none of them are on leased land, Klassen said.

Councillor Francesca Giroux said she’d like to see some permitting issues cleared up.

“We’re almost there,” said Driedger.

Giroux said she’d also been hearing some complaints about restrictions to public access to the beach at Big Fish Bay, which is a condition of the lease.

Access was restricted during COVID, Klassen said. Keeping track of who is in there has been a challenge, she added, and a plan is being developed to do that. She also said the resort would like to see fees for day use.

Apparently there have also been complaints about seasonal campers putting up fences. Klassen said not much of that is happening and it is understandable, given the increase lately in thefts. That started, she said, when the town put in the new pathway connection (from 6th Ave. NW to Caribou Trail alongside the fire hall property).

“A lot of logistics to be hashed out!” said councillor Julie Brandle.

Big Fish Bay is proposing a meeting in the fall with the town to review the entire lease and will be proposing changes. Councillors are all for getting that done as soon as possible, especially because the requests regarding the trampoline park bear upon terms of the lease.

“We should hammer out the lease sooner than later,” said councillor Shawn Gramlich.

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