As our waterfront continues to get busier, more people will find ways to capitalize on it. I’m not necessarily talking about development, I’m talking about ways to get out on the water. We are missing out on boat rental opportunities that are found in other waterfront communities. Not only that, one BRO reader feels that there is an opportunity for canal boat operators, similar to what is common in Europe. I agree with this idea. I could think of nothing more fun that setting out on a daytime (or even overnight) excursion, that would entail sightseeing, lunch/dinner, set in comfortable quarters. The BRO reader passed along the following commentary that details what the scenario might look like:
This is an idea that never ever gets talked about. In Europe, people can rent canal boats. They have beds, a table and a galley. It is relaxing and enjoyable to slowly tour the British and European canals, docking in small towns, etc. It’s not a whirlwind vacation. I’ve seen the pictures and video. They are really wonderful family adventures for kids. Kids love to steer the canal boats with dad or help dad dock them. It’s a real adventure for them and it’s relaxing for parents.
It always got me to wondering about our Inner Harbor and Erie Canal. Would it be a viable business for people to rent small canal boats and tour the Buffalo River, the City Ship Canal, the Black Rock Canal, the Erie Canal up to Tonawanda and Lockport or maybe a longer venture to Rochester or Syracuse or Albany? Could it be a viable tourist business? Could it produce enough revenue to maintain the canals and locks without having to tap into the thruway tolls?
Last thought. It’s been a decade that Buffalo has rediscovered its Canals and Slips. What Buffalo has done has been small scale in comparison to Europe but Buffalo’s Canal Slips and the Erie Canal are the largest in North America (save possibly New Orleans). What if the Clark & Skinner, the Hamburg and the Ohio were rewatered for Amsterdam-like Offices and Residences. Point is not to build cheap, not to build generic, not to build for the sake of infill – to do things that are uniquely Buffalo.