WATER TAXI operators in the capital of the Canadian province of Ontario say the tourist season was terrible after the flooded Toronto Islands were kept shut all summer.
Cab bosses were also hit by a huge rise in permit fees by the licensing committee of the City of Toronto.
Alex Nosal, who runs the Otter Guy Water Taxi company, said:
Trade has been down by 90-to-95 per cent this summer,” and has had to come up with new ideas to literally keep his business afloat. Instead of dropping customers off at the islands, he has been taking them on a 30-minute ‘skyline tour’ around the harbour.
The water taxi boss said business had picked up over the Canada Day weekend, for the infamous Rubber Ducky race, but blamed Toronto’s councillors for making the situation worse by hiking up the operator fees.
Mr Nosal added: “From our point of view, the city’s parks and recreation department has been less than helpful. If they had wanted, they could have opened certain portions of the Islands.
“Most of the Centreville area is as dry as bone, except the Grandstand area, which is still partly submerged in water. Why didn’t they just close off the vulnerable areas and open up the rest of the waterway?”
To make matters worse, Toronto City has billed the Otter Guy Water Company $50,000 to operate their 16 boats over the summer.
This is eight times the $6,200 that he was charged last year and which, Mr Nosal says, is adding insult to injury after the city’s recreation department used the money from the water taxi licences to refurbish the Trillium ferry, a direct competitor.
Terry Turl, owner of the Miss Toronto boat charter service agreed and said:
It’s been an absolute cash grab and there has been no infrastructure spending at the islands at all. The money from the water taxi operators has gone into renovating the ferry. Even though it was supposed to be put out of business and is a direct competitor to the water cab companies.