Ontario Place Marina boaters told to vacate ahead of planned renovations

Notice was recently given to those using the Ontario Place Marina that they won't be able to return this season due to construction on the waterfront site. Mark McAllister gauges reaction.

By Mark McAllister

It may still be winter in Toronto, but that makes those who spend their spring and summer boating and living on the lake wanting to return once more. However, that won’t be happening this year for those at Ontario Place.

Boaters who lease space at the Ontario Place Marina were told in February in an email that prep for the future of the venue will be starting and they won’t be able to keep their boats there.

“It’s leaving 240 boaters thereabouts, many of them actually live on their boats during their season, without a place to go … with a five-year wait list anywhere else downtown,” said Nicholas Macleod, who keeps his boat at Ontario Place.

The notice was sent less than three months before the marina would normally open, saying “… in keeping with the government’s redevelopment schedule, the North and South Marina at Ontario Place will be closed, starting in 2023. Passenger pick-up and drop-off will also not be accommodated.”

“This just [reeks] of bad planning, lack of consultation, and almost seems like flying by the seat of your pants here,” said Norm Di Pasquale, spokesperson for Ontario Place For All.

The controversial plan from the province to have the Austrian-based Therme group build a spa resort and water park on the property has led groups like Ontario Place for All to speak up for more public space.

“We have to continue to fight and make people understand what a gem this is on the waterfront and what it means to Ontarians across this province,” said Di Pasquale.

CityNews asked Ontario Place why those who would soon be spending time next to the Cinesphere were told during the winter that their time was up.

“Stakeholders, including marina patrons, were advised as soon as the details and construction schedules were confirmed. We understand our stakeholders and marina patrons need to make plans accordingly, which is why we provided the closure update as soon as possible,” read Ontario Place’s statement.

Macleod said he feels the most for the people who actually live on their boat during the spring and summer seasons.

“There’s about 25-30 per cent that actually resides on their boat during the season. That’s their residence, and that’s a community that we’ve kind of built up over the last five years since I’ve been a part of Ontario Place,” he said.

Those waiting to get their boats in the water now face waiting lists for years at other Toronto-area marinas with no word on whether they will have first rights to return to Ontario Place when construction is complete.

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