Oshawa marina: lost at sea?

Boating enthusiasts in the Oshawa area are left floating, as the city continues to tries and secure an investor.

In December, a team of City officials set forward a marketing plan to try and reel in investors that may be able to get the once flourishing marina back open.

The current plan, a Request For Expression of Interest (RFEOI), is the second effort of its kind for the city and has a deadline set for March 8.

Warren Munro, the director of planning for the city, says an outside investor was the way to go about it.

“I think it is fair to say it’s a large capital expenditure,” he says. “It’s in the city’s best interest to go back into the market and find someone who is willing to work with us and find a partnership.”

The 20 acres of land, which sits off Harbour Rd east of Lakeview Park, is currently vacant but once was home to a bustling boating community.

When it was announced in May of 2002 that boat owners would have to abandon ship, many relocated their vessels to marinas in Whitby, Pickering and other ports throughout the GTA.

Robert Kreasul was Commodore at the marina in the 70s and now keeps his boat in Port Darlington. He hopes to have a spot in the city that matches what once was, sooner rather than later.

“Oshawa harbor is, without a doubt, the best small boat harbor on the north shore,” he says. “It can support over 300 recreation oaters, if only the politicians get off their asses and get it done”

Although blaming city officials seems to be a popular outlet for frustration, it’s really the lack of investors that have held back the marina from reopening.

Among other issues blamed for the vacancy of the port is the industrialized nature of the Oshawa harbourfront.

The fact is, this did factor into environmental concerns that led to the closure of the original location. The history itself is quite murky.

In 1966 the Oshawa Harbour Commission (OHC) owned the land, where a thriving marina and yacht club operated. Its closure in 2002 was credited to environmental and financial concerns. Soon after, the land was no longer property of the OHC, and was overseen by the federal government.

Years passed, and issues such as an ammonia contamination in the groundwater made reopening seem like a far-off dream.

Ottawa was set to hand the lands back to the city in 2012 when this issue arose, causing a delay in the city taking ownership, and therefore a delay in the hopes of a bustling marina once more.

While the ammonia was not harmful to humans, it was to marine life, calling for a massive environmental cleanup.

“I think enough is enough,” said City Councilor Nester Pidwerbecki when news of the contamination broke. “The taxpayers, the marina users, the yacht club, everyone in Oshawa is almost to the point of exhaustion thinking nothing is going to happen down by the harbour except a port.

It was in 2012 that the idea of finding a developer for the land was brought up, hoping they would assist with the cleanup. In 2014, the city got the lands from the government.

At the time of the launch of this most recent campaign looking to bring in investors, several dollar amounts are thrown around suggesting what it will cost to get the marina running again. It will take nearly $1-million.

While the bidding process continues, details are scarce as it’s classified as a live proposal.

Dave Lyon is the manager of purchasing and support services for the city of Oshawa.

When the deadline hits, Lyon says the team takes the received offers to council to see how to proceed.

“If there is sufficient interest in the market,” Lyon says, “council may direct staff to go back out with a more formal bid document with the intent of forming a binding contract.

“So at that point we would go back out and that could be several months because there’s much more detail. It all depends on what we get back for responses and what interest there is in the marketplace.”

Only time will tell when local boaters will be able to set sail from within city limits. Munro says it all depends on the investors.

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Travis Fortnum is a second-year journalism student. He has a love for politics and is passionate about covering campus news, community events, and sports. Aside from the Chronicle, his stories have been featured in the Oshawa This Week, Brooklin Town Crier, Whitby Snap'd and on druhamregion.com.