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Four potential investors looking to take Oshawa Harbour to next level

Four groups have expressed interest in developing Oshawa’s harbour lands

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

If at first you don’t succeed, try again.

It’s a mantra the City of Oshawa used when it came to trying to drum up interest from the marina industry in giving the Oshawa Harbour a facelift. Following the city’s second attempt, and four big players coming to the table, things are starting to look up.

“I think it worked much better this time and I think when you look at the quality of the submissions, you have some that have real experience in the marina business,” says Paul Ralph, the city’s commissioner of development services.

The process began in the spring of 2016, when the city issued a request for expressions of interest (RFEOI) for potential developers to step forward. However, the process netted only two responses, one of which was not compliant with the city’s terms. The process was maligned by a consultant who said the city not only missed the mark with its terms, but issued the RFEOI at a time that nobody in the marina industry would be paying attention.

At the end of 2016, council issued a new RFEOI and launched an extensive marketing campaign to the tune of $25,000 in order to market the possibility worldwide. Answering the call are a quartet of possible operators.

First, a proposed partnership between John Mackey, the operator of the Port Perry Marina for the last 34 years, and John Yurkovich could see a full-service marina, starting with 150 slips with plans to further expand later on. Snack bar, cafe and restaurant, public boat launch, fuel sales and a new boating store are all envisioned by the duo, who see the marina and harbour growing over a five-to-10 year period. According to their initial proposal, financing for the project would come from a joint venture between the Port Perry Marina, John Mackey and the YGC Group.

The second proposal comes from Huron District Contracting, a company involved in the marina and recreation industry for over 30 years. The contractor most recently completed work on revitalizing the waterfront area of Port Stanley and also operates the Maitland Valley Marina and Campgrounds in Goderich.

Their plans envision starting with repairs to the basic infrastructure at the marina and dredging the marina area. A boat launch, public washrooms and beverage and food services would be included as part of creating a space ideal for families, activities and special events with, “the goal to make the marina a tourist destination,” their proposal reads.

Huron plans to finance the project themselves, along with an existing financial partnership with the Business Development Bank of Canada. The proposal notes they “would like to keep the requirement of the city to a minimum.”

The third proposal comes from the Biglieri Group, a land use consultant who would be project managing the development for the Oshawa Farewell Marina Consortium, a business arrangement created with the goal of revitalizing the Oshawa Harbour.

The consortium is made up of a trio of individuals: Harold Hough, the president of the Pickering Harbour company; Barry Pettit, the CEO of Pettit Inc; and Stephen Richardson, the managing director of Richardson Workboat.

Biglieri, who most recently project managed the expansion of the Oshawa Centre, proposes a large scale reworking of the harbour, including the potential of bringing in a residential developer to focus on the lands north of Harbour Road.

The Biglieri group plans to expand the size of the marina and its facilities with the hopes of facilitating large-scale events such as festivals and concerts. The plans also envision creating options for year-round use of the facilities.

The final proposal comes from Charming Panda Technology Inc, which plans a large scale expansion of the number of slips at the Oshawa Harbour, growing from 166 slips at the start with a $6-million investment in the first year, then growing to 300 with an additional $5 million, and finally boosting to 420 slips and the addition of a yacht club, rental entertainment centre, motel and restautant for an additional $4.5 million.

The proposal states the company will build and operate the marina with funds from various companies in China. However, the names of the respective two companies are redacted from the city report.

According to Ralph, that was done at their request.

“When we went to all four proponents that made submissions, we advised them that we were going to attach their submissions to the staff report and we asked them whether or not there was any information that was business related that should be redacted and that’s why they came back and said this, but they didn’t explain why.”

Now, reliant on council approval, staff will work to issue an invitation-only request for proposals (RFP), which will look for more detailed submissions from the four respondents, which should lay out the future marina’s lease terms, project phasing, responsibilities of the developer and the city, scope of the project and other business arrangements.

“It is also recommended that city staff meet with the four respondents of the RFEOI in advance of their potential RFP submission in order to provide the opportunity for a site visit and to ensure that all respondents fully understand the condition of the marina and the need for a public boat launch,” the report reads.

The report will go to council on April 10.