Final decisions on renovations to Boathouse coming in February

  • By Terry Pender, Record staff
  • Tue Jan 10 2012
  • Final decisions on renovations to Boathouse coming in February
The Boathouse in Victoria Park is undergoing renovations.

Renovations The Boathouse in Victoria Park is undergoing renovations.

Philip Walker, Record staff

KITCHENER — The future of The Boathouse, a popular live-music venue in Victoria Park, should become clearer next Monday when city councillors are scheduled to debate a report on the interior and exterior renovations needed at the lakeside building.

About two thirds of the 120 people attending a public input session on the city’s 2012 budget Monday at city hall were there to support The Boathouse and its operator, Kevin Doyle. They were told that city council will make final decisions on paying for the renovations on Feb. 6.

There was no discussion about the extent of the renovations or the costs, except to say they will all be dealt with next Monday.

Denise Baker, a jazz vocalist, expressed the frustrations of many in the audience when she appeared briefly before city councillors.

“A lot of us are still concerned,” Baker said.

She asked for assurances that The Boathouse will be retained as a live-music venue, that renovations will be carried out and that Doyle will get the first option to run the city-owned facility. Those were the major decisions made at a city council meeting in September, but there has been no news since then.

“Nothing has changed,” said Coun. Scott Davey, who chairs the finance committee.

Davey was supported by Carla Ladd, the city’s chief administrative officer, who said: “Yes, we are keen to move forward.”

Negotiations between Doyle and the city continue, but no lease has been signed because the extent and cost of the renovations have not been finalized, Ladd said.

“We will be bringing a report to council next Monday, and council will then be discussing the potential funding for the renovations to The Boathouse,” Ladd said.

Baker was the last speaker at the meeting, which was held to hear public input on the proposed 2012 budgets. The city’s operating budget of about $140 million calls for a tax-rate increase of 3.9 per cent. The city’s capital budget of about $84 million is likely where the funds will come from to pay for the renovations to The Boathouse.

Harald Drewitz, an accountant from south Kitchener, led a group of about 33 taxpayers in calling for either a freeze or a minimal increase to the 2012 tax rates.

“That is totally unacceptable,” Drewitz said of the proposed tax-rate hike.

After finishing his five-minute presentation, Drewitz answered questions from city councillors for nearly an hour.

“What do you see as a responsible tax increase?” Coun. Kelly Galloway asked Drewitz.

“On Jan. 19 (the day the budget is struck), I will be looking for a zero tax increase,” Drewitz said.

City councillors will consider a long list of cuts to reduce the 3.9 per cent tax-rate hike by two percentage points.

Representatives from Kitchener Minor Soccer, four neighbourhood associations and the Residential Energy Efficiency Project all asked to be spared from cuts to grants or delays in funding major projects, such as the construction of a permanent community centre in Williamsburg.

Some of the proposed cuts would reduce funds for neighbourhood association news letters, grass cutting on soccer fields, and delay for years the start of construction on the Williamsburg Community Centre.

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