The 2016 Paddling Season is pretty much in the rearview mirror, and we're already turning our thoughts to next year.
But first, we'd like to take a few minutes to look back over this season.
As most of you know, our family has been dealing with a serious health issue these past several months. Tanya was diagnosed with breast cancer in March. Since then, she has endured 16 weeks of chemotherapy, a major 9-hour surgical procedure, and she is now in the middle of a course of 25 radiation treatments. Lucky for us, she is continuing to progress through her recovery and her oncology team at the Juravinski Cancer Centre in Hamilton is optimistic that she will make a full recovery in time.
It goes without saying that Tanya has always been a major driving force behind Grand River Kayak, our customer service, and our instructional team.
Having her sidelined by this ugly disease has certainly had an effect on our ability to deliver products and services this season.
We stayed closed 3 days a week all this summer, when in past years we have been open 7 days a weeks for the entire summer paddling season.
Fortunately for us, we found assistance in the form of Tate Postumus! Tate has been coming around the store for a few years, and we'd bump into him in unexpected places (like a winter hike at Rock Point Provincial Park) and when he visited us early this Spring, offering his services to help around the shop, we didn't realize how timely his offer was....until we got Tanya's breast cancer diagnosis just weeks later. Needless to say, Tate stepped up to the plate and helped us out more than we could have expected - not only did he do all sorts of "grunt" work without complaint, he took over our SUP lessons, and helped out with guided tours as well. As a fellow "water spirit" he's become an indispensable part of our team!
I'd like to say, on behalf of Tanya and myself, a very special THANK YOU to everyone who was so patient, understanding, and accommodating to our limited hours and program offerings this season!
It's no big secret that we also cancelled our rental program for 2016. There were two major factors that led to that decision. Tanya's illness and treatment schedule was one.
But the challenge of being left with extremely limited customer parking following a streetscaping "improvement" by Haldimand County was the other. In the Fall of 2015, just after the end of our regular season, the County began "improving" the section of Port Maitland Road that ends just in front of our property. Long-term customer will remember for years the way we encouraged customers to angle park on the North side of Port Maitland Road, especially on busy days.
When the County repaved our section of Port Maitland Road, the engineers deemed the road "too narrow" for angle parking, and instead reconfigured the parking so that, instead of 18 cars the road can now accommodate SIX parking spots. We have a neighbour across the road who constantly occupies one (despite having a driveway OFF the road) and the garage next door manages to use up most of the remaining street parking, most of the day, most days of the week. We're lucky to get a single parking space at any given time...... It's pretty difficult to operate a "volume" business with a single parking spot. So, we made the difficult decision to not offer rentals this year - we gave up 800 customer visits over the summer season because we no longer have anywhere to park customers.
We're hoping that as our plans for the 2017 Season come together, we can find a way to once again return to the rental business, but without a solution to the parking situation, it looks doubtful.
Paddlesports continues to be a labour of love, a passion, a calling for us. But's a challenging way to make a living. Despite the challenges, we are committed to coming back BIGGER, BETTER and STRONGER next year!!!
Stay tuned for further updates as they develop!
Thank you again for another awesome Grand River Kayak season!
Ed & Tanya (and Emiliana) Sullivan and Tate Postumus