By: Mike Anderson

While Benn Spiegel, the owner of Krates Marina, is happy the boating season is finally a go, it hasn’t removed the sting of being fined $880 earlier this month by a Town bylaw officer for failing to comply with the province’s Reopening Act.

While the Town will not comment on the specifics of the charge as it may be before the courts, Mr. Spiegel said the marina was fined for allowing its customers inside to check on their boats.

“It’s one of the most ridiculous things I’ve heard,” said Mr. Spiegel, who owns the 500-slip marina, one of the largest on Lake Simcoe, at 290 The Queensway S. in Keswick.

“Customers need to be able to check in on their boats. They need to ensure that their property is secure and safe.”

“We recently had a fire, and it was very concerning. There was another fire today in Midland. Boats need to be taken care of; they’re expensive assets.”

Mr. Spiegel believes the marina was not in contravention of provincial legislation, and he intends to fight the charge in court.

“I’m sure the judge won’t have a problem throwing the case out,” he said.

“Nobody knows what the rules are or how to interpret them, except for one individual who has the authority and probably shouldn’t have the authority to interpret.”

“We were allowing our customers to prepare their boats for launch. We were not open. We had closed signs posted.”

Under provincial regulations, boat owners and their contractors, as long as they followed COVID-19 protocols, were allowed to access local marinas to repair and service their vessels.

Boats could also be launched and placed in slips by marina staff or mechanics. However, boat owners were prohibited from heading into open water for recreational boating.

Mr. Spiegel was also upset that the bylaw officer made additional demands that he believes weren’t warranted or even legal.

He said he was pressured to replace his “closed” signs with larger signs at the marina entrance and hire a security guard to restrict access.

“I was told that we weren’t doing everything we should do to prevent people from coming in,” he said.

“They wanted us to hire a security guard, but there was no revenue to pay for it. And what gives them the authority to determine the size of the sign on the facility?”

New “highway-size” closed sign at marina entrance

Mr. Spiegel said the Town forced him to effectively barricade the marina, which blocked his customers from entering, making him liable for any damage that could have occurred.

He believes this was unnecessary, illegal and punitive.

“We went through the entire season last year and adopted every protocol. And we didn’t have one case of the virus transmitted,” Mr. Spiegel said.

“There are a lot of businesses that are complying with these rules, and we’re not the guilty party.”

“We’re doing the best we can with the circumstances. And they’re just flexing their muscles.”

Krates Marina wasn’t the only local marina fined this month. Pasadena Marina, known as King Dragon Marine Boat and Tackle, located at 543 Lake Dr. S. in Keswick, was also fined $880 for violating the Reopening Act.

However, the Town would not provide details about the specific charge, and its owners declined to speak to The Post.

According to a Town spokesperson, the Municipal Law Enforcement Division has charged 16 businesses under the provincial legislation since the start of the pandemic.

Still, the Town has not been notified by the court of any businesses wishing to dispute the fines.

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