WINNIPEG — A Manitoba business is fighting to stay open after being told its lease has expired and won’t be renewed.
Steep Rock Kayak and Canoe is located in the RM of Grahamdale and offers rentals for people to head out onto the water of Lake Manitoba. Nearby there is Goat Island which has turned into its own tourist attraction.
Peter Hofbauer, who is the owner of the business, said he learned on Nov. 20, 2020, that his lease wasn’t renewed.
In a letter to CTV News, the RM of Grahamdale said on Nov. 12, 2020, the council approved not renewing the lease.
“What they are trying to do is remove an icon of Steep Rock and it’s a major tourist attraction,” said Hofbauer.
The RM said the decision is part of a long-term development plan.
“One of the objectives of this plan is to remove structures that exist on public lands along the lakeshore to better facilitate access to the lake and to public lands,” the statement said.
Hofbauer said he never received any consultation from the RM about this new development plan and said he was shocked to learn that he is being ordered to shut down.
He said he couldn’t understand why a business that has helped bring money to the area through tourism would just be told to stop operating.
The RM also said another reason for ending the lease was due to safety in the area.
“Also relevant to this decision were safety concerns related to the congestion of the area around the dock, which can see a large amount of foot and vehicle traffic, powered and unpowered boats launching and loading, swimmers in the water, and visitors to Steep Rock exploring the lakeshore, including the Steep Rock cliffs,” the RM said.
Hofbauer doesn’t think there are safety concerns and that if his business were to be relocated, it would make the area more unsafe.
“If I were to run this business anywhere else from where it is, it would dramatically increase congestion and dramatically decrease safety,” he said.
He added where his business is now, it has a clear shot of the water and he can monitor if it gets too windy or choppy, but if it were to move, that view would be gone.
“To relocate this business, the way I operate it … to do the same thing, it would not be possible to operate that kind of business away from the water.”
Hofbauer said he has been operating the business for 13 years and he has put countless hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars into making it what it is.
When it comes to what the summer will look like for Steep Rock Kayak and Canoe, Hofbauer said if he isn’t able to save the land where he works, the summer will involve bringing in dump trucks and excavators to remove the sand and rocks he had previously brought in, instead of providing a spot for entertainment for Manitobans.
The RM said they support Hofbauer’s business and hope he will continue operating somewhere else.
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