Big float for Boathouse relaunch

While I very much want to see the Boathouse back in business as a thriving music venue, bar and restaurant, I voted against a final bid that was approved 7-2 by councillors.
Along with Councillor Paul Singh, I opposed the motion for 2 reasons — cost and the bidding process.
First, the cost.
I have difficulty justifying the fact the city will finance the deal with $410,000 worth of taxpayers’ money to help pay for most of the extensive interior renovations at the Victoria Park venue.
In fact, if we add in the $350,000 already spent by the city on exterior upgrades around the bar-restaurant and its expanded patio, the Boathouse will have cost taxpayers at least $760,000 by the time it reopens. And I’m concerned the cost will increase in coming months.
In addition, an extra $168,000 for interior improvements will be contributed by Bill MacTavish and a financial partner at Imbibe Entertainment Inc., the company that has been granted a 10-year lease. MacTavish also operates the downtown Imbibe restaurant, bar and music venue at The Museum, 10 King St. W.
I think the Boathouse pricetag is too rich and would argue the venue was popular because it operated in a funky environment loaded with slightly grubby character. Somewhere between that original, shoestring operation and the Cadillac version destined to open this summer, I am convinced the city and taxpayers could have found a much improved but more affordable operation.
Second, the bidding process.
I would have liked to have seen several of the original six interested companies and individuals left standing to vigorously negotiate and bid on the rent, taxes and financial bones of the project in an open, transparent manner until a final, successful operator was selected.
And, even though that didn’t happen, I don’t want to ignore the positives:
A new and improved Boathouse will double in size and include a 110-seat restaurant, new washrooms, a clean kitchen with serving hatch, bar, stage and dance floor. It will continue to operate a concession sales hatch serving park visitors.
The plans look great, the location has always been fantastic and I look forward to imbibing at the new and improved Boathouse.

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