Ontario Construction News staff writer
Barrie is looking for a public-private partnership to expand the city’s marina.
At a meeting in December, councillors directed staff to investigate options and “have an open mind” for possibilities that stop short of selling the waterfront land.
“If a developer wanted to invest in our city, expand on the marina, but also take over (operation of) the existing marina, I’d be open to that proposal,” said Councillor Mike McCann.
A report on the future of the waterfront property was presented to council last January.
The city has operated the marina since 1971, offering a gas dock, waste pump-out, boat launch, potable water supply, shore power and minimal restroom/shower facilities.
An expression of interest was issued in 2013, but there were no responses. Also, no proposals to lease the facility were submitted when the city issued an expression of interest in 2013
“(The) primary interest here is in exploring the potential (for) a private operator,” Mayor Jeff Lehman said in BarrieToday.ca. “I’m not sure we need to be in the marina business. It was a bit of a legacy that we’re in the marina business. The municipality doesn’t need to be providing boat slips to people. This is something the private sector handles everywhere else on Lake (Simcoe).”
According to a staff report, “expanding the marina’s physical infrastructure and service offerings beyond those currently offered requires access to capital in order to finance improvements”
N. Barry Lyon Consulting concluded “in general, while a sale or lease of the marina offers the potential to discharge liabilities and provide a revenue source, these must be balanced against a range of largely non-financial impacts that are difficult to quantify, but potentially significant to the City of Barrie.”
Mississauga, Toronto, Toronto Port Authority, Whitby, Oakville, and Kingston have chosen not to lease their marinas to private parties over the past several years, fearing “losing control of the waterfront and limiting reinvestment due to profit taking.”