Good Question: What happened to the fast ferry terminal in Toronto?

February 18, 2019 12:22 PM

TORONTO (WHEC) -- By now, you know the story about Rochester's failed fast ferry to Toronto. But whatever happened to the multi-million dollar terminal in Toronto's port that was built for the ferry?

A viewer asked Pat Taney to look into it so he went to Toronto for answers.


First, for those who need a quick recap, the first fast ferry from Rochester to Toronto set sail in 2004. After several issues, the plan failed.

Then, more of your tax dollars were used, and another fast ferry was launched. The second try also failed before Rochester -- already in debt -- pulled the plug and sold the boat.

Here on our side of the border, the City of Rochester recently renovated the ferry terminal and marina at the Port of Rochester. But what happened on the other side of the lake?

At 8 Unwin Ave., you'll still find a 38,000-square-foot, $8 million structure. It was built by what was then called the Toronto Port Authority. It was constructed specifically for the Rochester Ferry.

News10NBC went to view it but we were only able to get as far as the security gate before being turned away.

A spokesperson, for what is now called PortsToronto, later got back to Pat and told him the building has seen a lot of action since the last ferry departed. It still hosts some cruise ships.

"In fact, the port is expecting 35 cruise ships this summer and fall underscoring the importance of the ever-growing Great Lakes cruise ship business and the role it plays in contributing to Toronto's booming tourism industry," Sarah Sutton, a spokesperson for PortsToronto said. 

The terminal has also been used as studio space to shoot movies and TV shows.

"It is contributing to the success of Toronto's $2 billion CAD ($1,511,273,219.07 USD) film industry," Sutton said.

A Canadian series, no longer on the air, called "The Border" was shot in the facility. Producers leased the building for a whopping $3,500 CAD ($2,644.68 USD) per day.

"In 2018, PortsToronto supported 19 productions including 'Designated Survivors,' 'Private Eyes,' and 'In the Dark Days of Yesterday,'" Sutton said.

Bigger news was announced last year for PortsToronto and portions of the old ferry terminal. Cinespace Film Studios, which creates studio space for TV and movie producers, entered into a multi-year lease to occupy and develop portions of the old ferry terminal.

Here at home, there are no movie producers knocking on the doors at the Port of Rochester, but city officials claim renovations done here over the past several years are starting to pay off.

PortsToronto did not say if the agency lost money in this failed ferry deal. Again, they built it but Rochester and the companies behind the two ferry ventures leased it.

They paid $250,000 a year and the lease was supposed to be until 2019. Back in 2009, the last fast ferry company and the City of Rochester paid a combined $95,000 to end and get out of the lease.

The city's share of that was just more than $10,000.

If you have a question you'd like answered, send Pat an email


Pat Taney

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