The new receiver of Dorset’s Old Mill Marina is reassuring concerned customers that it is planning to continue business operations and launch all stored boats.
The firm MNP Ltd. made the announcement March 11 after the Ontario Superior Court of Justice appointed it as receiver March 9. The previous owner of the facility Rob Walisser announced Feb. 26 he was stepping away from the business which he said was due to difficulties negotiating with the estate of business partner Dave Harvey, who passed away last October.
In a letter, MNP said it is working towards a sale process for the Old Mill.
“We are developing a plan to provide for the timely launching of all customer boats in storage as well as the installation and slip rentals for, in particular, water-access cottages,” the company said in a letter. It declined an interview with The Highlander.
In an update March 25 MNP said the spring boat-launch and slip rental program is almost complete and will be released in the coming days. However, due to COVID-19, the marina decided it’s operations were non-essential and will remain closed for now.
Walisser’s announcement received an outpouring of support. He said in a Facebook post Harvey bankrolled the operation for years and became more involved as time went on. But when Harvey passed without leaving clear legal instructions for business ventures, Walisser said the estate was not interested in investing in the marina. He said legal hurdles forced him to turn the business over to the estate to sell.
Kawagama Lake Cottagers’ Association president Kathleen Hedley said it was sad to see the marina change hands under these circumstances.
“We understand that business difficulties happen,” she said. “We’re hopeful that the new owners, whoever they end up being, will continue to see the value in the services provided in the lake.”
She said she welcomed MNP’s plans and said communication will be important from here on.
“I really hope that communication out to cottagers becomes their number one priority,” she said.
Peter Willmott owns one of the hundreds of boats stored at the facility over winter. He said MNP needs to act quickly and should contact customers more directly, especially those who need boats for water-access only cottages.
“That’s what the real concern is, a lack of communication to the actual clients,” he said.
He added Walisser’s departure is unfortunate.
“When you’re losing a reliable operator that’s been there for years, it’s always concerning.”
With the marina gone, Walisser also said he is departing the area.
“It is sad to be leaving Dorset. So many great memories in this town,” he said. “I wish each of you well and thank you for your friendship, support, and business.”