In January 2016, the federal government announced the sale of a 3.8-acre parcel of waterfront land for $3.2 million. The buyer was none other than local development firm, Patry Developments Inc., while the land in question was that which the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes has called home since 1975. The site is home to the only federally built dry dock on the Great Lakes, as well as the iconic Alexander Henry, a former buoy tender and light icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard. When news of the sale broke, Patry Developments Inc. provided a glimmer of hope concerning the museum’s future, stating that:
…[we] will work with them to partner with them to keep them in the space. It’s in disrepair and needs a lot to bring it up to par. We feel the dry dock is best served as a dry dock. It should be left dry. We have to look at the site and determine how to preserve it and work with the museum to keep them there.
Fast forward to April 22nd, two and a half months since the sale, where the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes received an eviction notice, giving them 120 days to clear out of their 41 year-old home at 55 Ontario Street. The surprise turn of events is the result of failed negotiations pertaining to proposed rent increases that would require the museum to pay commercial rates, which substantially exceed their current deal of $2/year. Although Patry Developments Inc. is seemingly open to negotiations, neither a hike in rent nor a decreased footprint appear to be acceptable terms to the museum, who is already in discussion with cities such as Hamilton regarding permanent relocation.
With the imminent loss of this long-standing cultural gem and tourist attraction emerging as an real possibility, this week’s poll asks:
What would you like to see happen to the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes?
- Remain in their current home. (59%, 273 Votes)
- Find a new home along Kingston's shoreline. (27%, 127 Votes)
- Move the museum elsewhere on the Great Lakes. (13%, 62 Votes)
- Something Else (I'll tell you in the comments) (0%, 2 Votes)
Total Voters: 464
It’s important to keep in mind that the city passed on an opportunity to purchase this property for $1, due to the $23 million price tag to restore the museum and clean up contamination. Subsequently, perhaps it should come as no surprise that a developer stepped in with the intention of transforming the land into “something extraordinary” (e.g. highrise condominiums). Kingstonians are sadly accustomed to having waterfront real estate sold off like this, one parcel at a time, which has left us with poor access, obstructed views and a laughable waterfront trail. This has to stop! And in my opinion, there’s no time like the present to do something about it, or else we risk losing something that truly differentiates our city from all the rest. With operating grants potentially available via the various levels of government, there remains a chance that a deal can be struck before the August 23rd deadline.
Photo credit to Andrew Kaszowski.