Thanks to a new agreement with a local property owner, the Town of Huntsville will receive a portion of rental proceeds from boat slips located on the Muskoka River near the Canada Summit Centre.
The shoreline boardwalk and boat slips are accessed from a piece of town-owned property on Park Drive next to Alberto Salon and Spa. Alberto’s owner, John Pantaleo, had initially erected the slips without permission, but followed the procedures laid out in a subsequent Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Town to receive approvals for the slips from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO).
With those approvals in place, Town staff negotiated an agreement with Pantaleo this year that would enable him to keep the slips in place while also generating revenue for the town.
Under the agreement, which was presented to councillors at the May 30 General Committee meeting, the Town will receive 25 per cent of the rental fees for the 10 slips, an estimated revenue for the Town of $3,250 per year. Pantaleo is responsible for appropriate insurance and all maintenance costs associated with the docks, although the Town has the right to inspect them to ensure they are being maintained in good condition, while the Town will continue to be responsible for maintenance of the adjacent Memorial Park area.
There is no designated parking for the slips, rather those using them can use the public lot across from Memorial Park and next to Huntsville High School (HHS) on a first come, first served basis. The agreement notes that both the parking area and the grassy area at Memorial Park could be subject to road closures and event use constraints.
Initial discussions included the possibility of public slips available for daytime use, but it was deemed that there was not enough demand.
The agreement allows for the future construction of kayak and canoe racks in Memorial Park “in a mutually agreeable location, the size and design of which must be approved by Town in writing prior to any construction.” HHS already keeps canoes in the park for its use, and community members frequently launch from that location, noted Pantaleo in a conversation with Doppler.
“I get tons of people coming down with canoes and kayaks and a lot of them live in the area,” said Pantaleo, adding that he’d like to approach the high school’s welding class to have them build the racks, that he would pay for, which could then be used by both the school and community members. “It’s about having more amenities available down around the Canada Summit Centre.” He said that timing for construction of the racks and potential rental fees for community members haven’t been determined yet. Under the agreement, the Town would also receive 25 per cent from any canoe and kayak rental fees generated at the site.
The agreement also allows for the possibility of a second phase of docks, which could connect to the existing phase and extend further down the river. Whether or not that is approved at a future date would be at council’s discretion and would likely follow a Request for Proposal (RFP) process under the Town’s procurement policy.
Pantaleo said that if an RFP is issued for a second phase, he would be interested in submitting a bid for additional boat slips, and that he’d like to see a boardwalk extend down the shoreline to give people an option for walking somewhere other than the adjacent roadway.
Town staff were directed to base the agreement on an existing license in place for the boat slips at Avery Beach, and have developed similar terms, said Steve Hernen, the Town’s Director of Operations and Protective Services. The license is in place until 2022, and will be automatically renewed for four successive terms of five years each unless either party give six months notice.
Councillor Bob Stone asked if the Town would receive compensation for the several years the dock had been in place prior to the agreement. Hernen said no, but that with the Avery Beach license “there was a five-year period where there was no rent paid to the town to compensate the owner for the building and creation of those docks.”
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