Skyline International Development has broken ground on the new Port McNicoll Yacht Club — a focal point of the ongoing revitalization of the Port McNicoll, Ontario waterfront.
The design for the Port McNicoll Yacht Club reclaims the town’s lost waterfront heritage and will form one of the hubs of a vibrant new redevelopment along nearly 11 kilometres of once inaccessible shoreline. When completed, the Port McNicoll Yacht Club and its associated facilities will be a primary gateway to easy exploration of Georgian Bay’s 30,000 Islands, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. The yacht club’s location has also been carefully positioned on a diverse network of open space linked to broader regional systems, by the Tay Shore Trail and Ganaraska Trail.
Established as the home base of Canadian Pacific’s Great Lakes Service in 1908, Port McNicoll is ideally located across from the entrance to the Trent-Severn Waterway in the Township of Tay. Its deep water port was closed in 1965 after nearly six decades of vital passenger "boat train" and freight service, which also connected the region to main Ontario and Québec rail lines.
“We are committed to revitalizing Port McNicoll in the timeless traditions of other landmark shoreline communities and restoring the area’s rich maritime past,” said Skyline Chairman and President Gil Blutrich. “Skyline’s shared vision is to encourage people to reconnect with nature through accessible, water-based recreation, while creating a flourishing four-season civic and commercial destination for the region.”
The Port McNicoll Yacht Club launch follows the recent announcement of an agreement between Skyline and Douglas, MI., entrepreneur R.J. Peterson to purchase and repatriate the S.S. Keewatin — the crown jewel in Canadian Pacific’s Great Lakes steamship fleet — to its original berth on Port McNicoll’s waterfront. The Edwardian-era vessel was retired in 1966 after spending 65 seasons ferrying passengers and goods from Port McNicoll to Thunder Bay (Port Fort William/Port Arthur) on Lake Superior.
As part of the yacht club and wider Port McNicoll redevelopment plan, elected officials and leaders from the Township of Tay, stakeholders from the town and broader region, and representatives from various provincial ministries collaborated with Skyline’s multi-disciplinary team to highlight key elements integral to both the town’s goals and Skyline’s vision. The overall project is also environmentally significant given Skyline’s investment in the reclamation of sizeable former brownfield sites within the project’s footprint, and extensive, ongoing shoreline remediation work.
“The launch of the yacht club, marina and adjoining park will generate tourism activity not seen here since the 1960’s,” said Tay Township Mayor Scott Warnock. “This is a very important step in the re-emergence of Port McNicoll’s waterfront as a gateway to Georgian Bay.”
Upon its completion, Skyline’s community-building development at Port McNicoll will include over 1,400 new homes in a mix of configurations, extending from the successful development of Harbour Club and Swan Island. At the heart of Skyline’s master plan is the Town Centre, a lively district featuring the yacht club and marina and surrounded by commercial, civic, cultural and recreation uses including specialty retail shops, cafes, restaurants and entertainment facilities.
Founded in 1998 by Blutrich, Skyline owns and operates more than 1,000 hotel rooms and suites, four golf courses, a major ski area (hill/resort), 80 kilometres of cross-country trails, over 12 kilometres of waterfront which encompasses a property portfolio of over 2,600 acres (1,052 hectares) across some of Ontario’s most pristine tourism regions such as Simcoe County, Georgian Bay and Muskoka. Over the past 12 years, Skyline has substantially grown its asset base, acquiring premier resort properties such as Horseshoe Resort, located 20 minutes away from Port McNicoll and the iconic Deerhurst Resort in Muskoka. The company now employs more than 1,500 people.
Skyline’s recent property-acquisition efforts have focused on reinvigorating tired properties, renovating their existing hotels and residential units, and then expanding their residential and retail footprint with an emphasis on enhancing/transforming properties into complete lifestyle communities. The firm has achieved impressive results — including more than doubling its year-over-year earnings — by introducing scalable systems and corporate efficiencies to these properties, returning them to a positive cash flow position and restoring maximum profitability.
For more information, visit skylineinvestments.com
Photo: Skyline’s Gil Blutrich, third from right, celebrates the first dig for the new Port McNicoll Yacht Club. L-r: Garfield Dunlop, Simcoe North MPP; Mara Burton, Tay Township’s Director of Planning & Development; Tay Township Mayor Scott Warnock; Gil Blutrich, Skyline President and Chairman; Marnie MacDougall, representing the office of Bruce Stanton, Simcoe North MP; Nelson Baumgardner, Councillor Ward 1 and Chair of Planning & Development, Tay Township.