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Niagara Falls
Sunday, February 5, 2023
Whirlpool Jet Boats owner asks town for contract amendment

For the past two years, high water levels at the Dock Area have prevented Whirlpool Jet Boats from properly running its business out of its Melville Street location, the company’s owner told councillors Monday.

Owner and president of Whirlpool Jet Boats, John Kinney, asked councillors to add a provision to his contract with the town that would permit reasonable abatements to rent payments when there are high-water or flooding conditions in the dock area.

Whirlpool Jet Boats has been running its business in town for 28 years, contributing a significant amount of revenue to the town and providing jobs to many people, Kinney told councillors.

Last year, the company made a full payment to use the town-owned dock on Melville Street but not a single boat was used out of that location in 2019, Kinney said. It was challenging to use parking on Melville Street and water conditions were unsafe for guests and boaters, he said.

He said there has been “frustration of contract” because the company has been unable to safely run its business due to unforeseen flooding.

If the situation happened once in 28 years, it wouldn't be a big deal, Kinney said, but based on hydrological forecasts, it is likely the situation is going to occur this spring as well.

“Going forward, we can’t continue to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to the town for a dock that we don’t have access to,” he said.

Over the past 28 years, the company has paid almost $3 million in total lease payments to the town, Kinney said.

If Whirlpool wasn't leasing the Melville property, the town would have to generate about $17 million in property taxes to equate the amount of revenue the company has been providing to the town since the start of the contract, Kinney told councillors.

Last August, the company asked for a lease abatement offering to pay 50 per cent of the lease but the town didn’t accept the offer.

In a letter to Kinney, the town lawyers explained the dock area was inspected by town staff and was deemed usable for the 2019 season. 

After Kinney’s presentation on Monday, town council decided to discuss the matter in a closed session at a later date.

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