Toronto

$10 'premium' catamaran ride proposed from Humber Bay Shores to downtown Toronto

A private company is fishing for support from the public for a rush hour water taxi service to ferry people from Humber Bay Shores in Etobicoke to downtown.

Private company says it needs public support to push city for long term lease and approval

The Otter Guy Inc. wants to use this 200-person electric catamaran in Toronto harbour to ferry people during rush hour from Humber Bay Shores to downtown. (The Otter Guy)

A private company is fishing for support from the public for a rush-hour water taxi service to ferry people from Humber Bay Shores in Etobicoke to downtown.

The gist of the proposal is to launch a 200-person electric catamaran, called The Otterman Empire, to run folks from the Etobicoke neighbourhood to the docks at the base of Yonge Street from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. during the week.

The company, called The Otter Guy, says it's just a proposal right now and it won't purchase the big boat until it tests the waters of public interest. The proposed fee would be $10 per ride.

"Now, that is more expensive than the TTC but it's still a lot cheaper than driving your car downtown and parking," said Alex Nosal, CEO of The Otter Guy Inc.

"But it's a premium service. You'll be travelling in comfort. We'll have Wi-Fi, air conditioning, bathrooms. People won't have to worry about traffic and it'll be a 30-minute trip."

The Otter Guy's proposed route from Humber Bay Shores to Yonge Street would take roughly 30 minutes and it would cost $10 a trip. (The Otter Guy)

Without 2 things from the city, the proposal will sink 

To make it happen, the private company needs two things from the city: approval to dock at Humber Bay and a long-term lease.

"Before we begin we're going to need … to make sure that the investment in these boats is going to pay off," Nosal said.

The Otter Guy said they would like the city to install washrooms at the Humber Bay docks where they would like to set up, but otherwise, Nosal said there wouldn't be "any financial outlay for taxpayers."

A City of Toronto spokesperson wrote a statement to CBC Toronto to say the city "has not received an official proposal or had any discussions" with The Otter Guy. 

And that's where a public meeting comes into play. It's scheduled for 7 p.m., Thursday May 30 at 2282 Lakeshore Blvd. W.

Residents who live near Humber Bay Park in Etobicoke have expressed concerns in the past over the lack of transit options to downtown. (Nicole Demarce/CBC)

While the company says its premium service will "not really be competing" with the TTC, it certainly shines a spotlight on the fact that the neighbourhood has long since complained about a lack of transit options.

The TTC did not respond to CBC Toronto with a statement, but last year it did launch a first-of-its-kind express bus from Humber Bay Shores to the Mimico GO station.

Traffic near Humber Bay is 'hell,' resident says 

Rizwan Birk lives in the area and says he would take the ferry service, especially in the summer. 

"Who wants to drive when its heavy traffic, sitting there depressed?" he said.

"I think a ferry would be really nice. "

Anna Piotrowski just moved to the neighbourhood from Oakville and says the traffic is "hell any time of day." 

She says the Queen streetcar is "pretty convenient," but says despite the stop close to her home, it's a surface transit route at the mercy of the traffic. She still thinks the ferry would be "really beneficial." 

Area resident Marco Iannizzi said it was a "great idea" he would use. However, he does have a concern. 

"It's great access to the city, but bad because it's already busy here. I have no idea what the plans are and what it will look like with parking," he said.  

Proposal drops fee from $15 per ride to $10 

It's not the first time this proposal from The Otter Guy's has lit up social media and particularly the Humber Bay Shores community group on Facebook.

The same sort of idea was reported in the media last summer, with the company touting a $15 fee per ride on its existing 49-passenger electric boats.

The Otter Guy Inc., which advertises itself as Canada's largest water taxi fleet, has been located at the base of Yonge Street for the past eight years, servicing routes from downtown to Ward's Island. (The Otter Guy)

"We were just poking around at the time," Nosal said, noting they have dropped the price and increased the size of the proposed vessel.

If The Otter Guy can get the public on board and the leasing requirements from the city, they hope to be operating the rush hour service by the end of this season or the beginning of next.

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