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Penetanguishene looks to fill 'void,' seeking tour boat operator

Neither Penetanguishene nor Midland had a tour boat operating from its town dock this year
2021-05-04 Tobermory Legacy 3
The Miss Midland became the Tobermory Legacy earlier this year after decades plying local waters.

After being shut out of the boat tour business this summer, Penetanguishene is doing something about it.

The town is inviting proposals from experienced and qualified boat tour operators looking to offer a location in which to do business.

“The town released the RFP for a boat tour operator as we had two interested parties reach out to us looking to secure space at the wharf,” explained Sherry Desjardins, Penetanguishene’s recreation & community services director.

“In an effort to provide a fair and equal opportunity to both parties, as well as secure the most suitable and competent operator for the town, staff released a request for proposals.”

Both Penetanguishene and Midland were without a boat cruise operator as the Miss Midland headed to Tobermory and a proposal to bring the Island Princess fell through at both locations.

A prospective Penetanguishene vessel would dock on the town’s concrete pier and have access to hydro, water and wastewater all on a fee for service basis, according to the town.

The town will also consider the placement of a ticket sale kiosk for operations on municipal land and work with the successful proponent on a mutually agreed upon arrangement.

“We know there is a void in North Simcoe as visitors often inquire about the availability of scenic boat tours at our Tourist Information Centre,” Desjardins said.

“We are hopeful that we will be able to negotiate a suitable agreement with an operator through this process so that this service will be available in Penetanguishene next summer.”

The RFP was released earlier this month and asks that return proposals be sent in by Monday at 11 a.m. For more information, contact Desjardins at [email protected].

Last year, Gerry Hogenhout and his business partners from Georgian Shores Catering outlined plans to move the Island Princess to Midland where it would permanently stay at a dock near Pettersen Park.

They later decided to move it to the Penetanguishene town dock before finally opting to keep it in Orillia.

Hogenhout said the initial intent was to move the boat to Midland to offer catering on the boat and leverage the Georgian Shores Catering business, which is well established in the Midland area.

In the end, however, they decided to leave the boat in Orillia and operate it from there.

“We have decided to stay in Orillia, and the citizens of this town should give a pat on the back to Allan Lafontaine, executive director of the Orillia District Chamber of Commerce. He was instrumental in convincing us to stay,” Hogenhout said at the time.

“The Orillia council was also very supportive of trying to make us change our minds, and they’ve succeeded.

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Andrew Philips

About the Author: Andrew Philips

Editor Andrew Philips is a multiple award-winning journalist whose writing has appeared in some of the country‚Äôs most respected news outlets. Originally from Midland, Philips returned to the area from Québec City a decade ago.
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