The City of Kitchener now finds itself with one lone proposal for a restaurant and music venue in Victoria Park at the boathouse.
The Boathouse in its former incarnation was a bustling and beloved business for years, when it was run by Kevin Doyle.
But with a small, outdated kitchen, a public washroom and high utility costs, it wasn’t financially viable for Doyle to continue running it the way he had.
So the city, in all its wisdom, turfed him out. Surely, someone would come along with money and vision and turn the space into a vibrant music venue once again.
There were six initial proposals for the space. That was cut down to a shortlist of three. Now, the city will have the ideas of just one partnership to accept or reject.
That’s unfortunate. The boathouse is prime real estate, and it is owned by all of the citizens of this city. It’s a shame to leave it sitting empty. Former boathouse patrons are likely moving on, finding another local spot to spend their cash in.
While Bill MacTavish and Curt and Cory Crossman may have plenty of skills and experience, they’ll also need a lot of money to build a new kitchen and complete other interior renovations that have been sorely needed at the boathouse for years.
They’ll have to make their business case without knowing if the business they are proposing is one they could potentially sell in the future.
They’re required to come up with a business plan, without knowing how much the city intends to charge for rent. This is one of the biggest costs for a small business, and right now it remains a mystery.
The city maintains this is how their request for proposal process works. But after almost two years of controversy, the boathouse has proven to be a special case, and it should be treated as such.
There may be pressure to accept the lone proposal whether it’s entirely suitable or not. If it’s rejected, the process could start all over again.
That could extend the time period that the boathouse is shuttered and dark. And it’s not guaranteed that the city councillors’ former commitment to keep it as a music and culture venue could survive that.
Categories: Editorial, Opinion