By Don Fraser, St. Catharines Standard

Greg Swallow says all he wants is his boat back — without an insurance policy revision hassle.

The trouble began earlier this year, when owners of about 100 boats learned they’ll need new winter storage after the ShipShape boat yard lease was terminated by St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp.

Swallow says his 50-foot powerboat was put up for winter storage and repair by ShipShape, located in Port Weller.

He’s now told boaters using the marina need to add the Seaway and Transport Canada’s name to their insurance policies to protect them from liability.

Swallow, a Burlington resident, said he and other boaters are being denied access until that change is made.

“Out of no fault of our own, our boats are being held hostage by the St. Lawrence Seaway and Transport Canada, and we have no voice,” he said, supplying e-mails citing similar concerns form other boaters, who have not gone on the record. “We are … humble boaters being treated with disdain.”

The property is now being managed by Niagara Falls’ Marlow Bailiff and Property Management Services.

Last month, Marlow deferred comment to Bruce Hodgson, director of Seaway market development, who said lease cancellation details are a “commercial item that I prefer not to get into.”

Jonathan Marler, general manager of ShipShape, told The Standard the issue was over tax payments, which he considered the Seaway authority to be responsible for.

A March 30 e-mail was sent out by Marlow to all boaters of ShipShape that aims for a launch date at the site of April 15.

The e-mail advises boaters some of the insurance policies submitted do not meet the requirements set out by the Seaway in the storage agreement at 10 Seaway Haulage Rd.

In another recent e-mail to boaters, supplied by Swallow, Marlow says one condition for entry to the property is that insurance certificate. “I have been instructed to deny entry to anyone that has not meet all conditions of the storage agreement,” said the e-mail.

Swallow adds the Seaway will start charging him storage fees at about $2,000 a month if his boat is not out by June 15.

Seaway spokesman Andrew Bogora confirmed the Seaway is requesting that it and Transport Canada be added to a boat owner’s insurance policy as an “additional insured.”

Bogora said this request is not unusual and a “common operating practice.”

“Insurance companies typically do not charge any fee to issue a certificate of insurance, with the additional insured(s) noted within the text of the policy,” he said in an e-mail.

He said the Seaway’s objective is to “assist owners in getting their boats launched into the water.”

To that end, the Seaway has made arrangements with the bailiff to grant boat owners access to the property, and allow them to prepare their boats for launch.

He said boat owners will not be changed any fee for storage, as long as the boats are launched by June 15. Bogora said most owners have indicated they’ll be out by then.

Should any owner choose not to launch their boat by June 15, the Seaway will charge a “market standard fee for boat storage” for any time that extends beyond June 15.

As for potential security lapses raised by Swallow, Bogora said the marina site is secured in a manner similar to others.

He said there’s a fence around the perimeter of the property, and a locked gate controls access to the land and boats.

The site, he said, is monitored by both security patrols and cameras.

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