Just in time for Kitchener’s Blues Festival, much delayed construction work is expected to start next week at the Victoria Park Boathouse.
And that won’t be too soon for those of us who, for far too long, have been legitimately singing the Boathouse Blues.
Even though the completion date of mid-September remains in place, I think it’s a tad ambitious considering construction delays blamed on design, hydro, mechanical, heritage and access issues that I’m convinced should have been identified and addressed last winter.
I’m told council will now be given regular, overdue updates as construction progresses. As those updates arrive, I will watch closely to make certain the $410,000 in taxpayer cash already budgeted by the city to help pay for interior Boathouse renovation work does not increase. An additional $168,000 will be spent on upgrades at the proposed 110-seat restaurant-music venue that has been planned since November by the new tenant, Imbibe Entertainment Inc.
Unfortunately, while taxpayers lose rental income, thousands of Blues Fest’ fans visiting the park Aug. 7-10 will see only a construction zone at the Boathouse and will not be able to enjoy the new and beautiful patio area created with an additional $350,000 invested by the city.
And while I’m not happy with the amount of money spent and a process that resulted in a single tenant bidding for the Boathouse, I will be among the first enjoying food, music and a sunset at the venue when it opens at a location that will be unmatched in Waterloo Region.