Water Sport Rentals
The opportunity exists on both Lake Newell and Red Deer River for rentals of water sport equipment. The development of water sport rentals at these two locations would extend the range of outdoor adventure tourism opportunities available in the area.
Lake Newell is the largest and warmest man made lake in Alberta and one of the fastest lakes for sailing and windsurfing. Visitors to Lake Newell currently boat, swim, sail, fish, camp, hike and bird watch using their own equipment.
Red Deer River runs 724 km from Banff National Park to the South Saskatchewan River. A stretch of the river located in the County of Newell is ideal for paddling and runs from Steveville to Dinosaur Provincial Park. Currently, there are no boat rentals available along this stretch of the river.
It is envisioned that the water sport rentals would offer a broad range of water activities between the two locations for both local residents and visitors. The Lake Newell rental location would offer canoes and kayaks, as well as potential opportunities for power vessel and other water sport rentals. The Red Deer River location would feature canoe and kayak rentals. Both locations could also potentially offer guided tours or a skipper.
Water sport rentals on Lake Newell and the Red Deer River would take place seasonally between May and October, weather permitting.
It is anticipated both locations will have a variety of paddle rentals, including: single kayak rentals, double kayak rentals, and canoe rentals. Potential business owners can limit expenses by purchasing used equipment.
Based on a competitive analysis, it is suggested the single sit-in kayak rentals be Pelican Quest 100, Dagger, Old Town, or Wilderness Systems. The suggested double (tandem) kayak is the Perception Cove, while the Coleman 15.5 Ram-X and Old Town Saranac 160 canoes are suitable for the water sport rentals.
It is estimated the Lake Newell location will have ten single kayaks, five double kayaks, and five canoes for rent. The Red Deer River location will have four single kayaks, two double kayaks, and one canoe for rent.
A boat shed can be built near the boat launches of both locations to store the rental equipment. Alternatively, the Red Deer River location can be serviced from the boat shed on Lake Newell or elsewhere by delivering equipment on an as needed basis. The Red Deer River location will likely need a shuttle service as paddlers will be starting and ending their journey at different locations on the water.
Rentals can be conducted out of the sheds and online. Paddles, personal flotation devices, and all required safety equipment should be included with rentals.
In addition, the Lake Newell location has the potential to support sailboat, water ski, jet ski, paddle boat, fishing, and motorboat rentals. These further water sport activities can be considerable revenue generators and can serve as significant visitor attractors to the region. Adding these services can be considered Phase 2 of this development, based on market demand.
Lake Newell is 16 km long and 6.5 km wide, with a surface area of 67 sq km. The lake has a total shoreline of approximately 70 km with a maximum depth of just under 20 m. The lake is deep, fast, and warm, which allows for many types of wind craft to be used and also allows for sailing earlier in the spring.
Lake Newell is located immediately adjacent to Kinbrook Island Provincial Park. The lake is also located 12 km south of Brooks, approximately 10 minutes on Secondary Highway 873. Dinosaur Provincial Park is a 45-minute drive to the northeast. Lake Newell is within a 2 hour drive to any major Southern Alberta urban centre.
A boat launch, hand boat launch, and sailboat launch offer a number of options for water sport activities on the lake. Power vessels are subject to a 12 km/h speed limit in the posted swimming area. A seasonal convenience store offering snacks is currently available on site, as well as a fish cleaning stand.
The closest upstream access to the Red Deer River from Dinosaur Provincial Park is located at the Steveville Campground, approximately a 20 minute drive. It is located immediately after the small Steveville Bridge off Highway 876, on the west edge of the park.
With the exception of the first 100 m, the roads within the campground include large potholes that may cause accessibility problems for some vehicles. There are up to 15 campsites available and a beach along a bend of the Red Deer River. Picnic tables and pit toilets are available, though there is no access to utilities.
Following the river, it is 13 km from Steveville to the Dinosaur Provincial Park campground. This can take 2.5 to 4 hours to paddle, depending on the water level and time of year. The river is generally fast flowing and the current is strong.
While in Dinosaur Provincial Park, camping is only allowed at the designated campground. The land surrounding the park is private and paddlers require the landowner’s permission to access these areas. The boat launch in the day use area of the park is recommended for hand launch only. Boat trailers and vehicles may get stuck in the river sediment and silt.
Both the Lake Newell and Red Deer River locations are on land that is designated for provincial parks and campgrounds. Contact your local government to determine zoning and permitting requirements. Further investigations and consultations with Alberta Parks and the Eastern Irrigation District may be required.
The following checklist should be used when determining site eligibility:
- Check zoning
- Ensure proper permits are in place
- Confirm businesses can operate within provincial parks
- Check environmental regulations and species protection
- Determine legal and insurance requirements
- Market Attraction
The Lake Newell rental location will be the higher traffic location and will attract both local customers and tourists alike. A number of locals already use the lake year-round, providing a steady revenue stream for potential business owners. Much of the local market may already own water sport equipment, but may be interested in rentals for convenience or the diverse experiences offered on the water.
Tourists to the Lake Newell location are likely to be visitors to Kinbrook Island Provincial Park or from the surrounding regions in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and the United States. This group is likely to be attracted by the natural beauty of the area, an outdoor lifestyle, and the landscape. The tourism market for water sport rentals on Lake Newell will be recreation tourists, whose demographics may include families, millennials, and couples.
The market for paddling on the Red Deer River will more likely be tourists attracted to Dinosaur Provincial Park. These visitors may be attracted to the natural landscape of the Alberta Badlands, but may also be education or attraction tourists interested in paleontology or dinosaur fossils. This market’s demand for paddling may therefore be driven by demand for alternative activities in addition to the primary purpose of the visit to the region.
The majority of tourists will be from the surrounding regions or Canada more broadly. Visitors to the Red Deer River location will also be more likely than those visiting Lake Newell to be from other regions of the world. They may have less experience on the water and will be looking to disembark at Dinosaur Provincial Park. Their demographics may include families, millennials, and couples.
The initial capital investment requirements are $25k for the Lake Newell location and $15k for the Red Deer River location. This includes boating equipment, a boat shed, and safety equipment. Single kayaks are estimated to be $500 each, while double kayaks and canoes are $1,000 each. A boat shed is estimated to cost $5,000, while another $5,000 is allocated toward boating equipment, safety equipment, and maintenance for each location.
This financial information in this section assumes two staff members working 12 hours/day for the open season of 180 days at the Lake Newell location. Staff wages are estimated to be $15/hour. One staff member will be required at the Red Deer River location for the same period. It should be noted that staff wages comprise the majority of expenses. Profit margins would significantly increase should the businesses be self-staffed or a family business.
Single kayaks are estimated to be $35 for a half day and $50 for a full day rental. Double kayaks and canoes will be $60 for a half day and $80 for a full day rental.
Revenue is targeted at $750/day at the Lake Newell location and $375/day at the Red Deer River location, based on a competitive analysis of prices for similar water sport rentals in the region. This is the average daily targeted revenue, as receipts are likely to be higher during the May-August period and decline from September-October.