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Ottawa boat show returns as industry finds new ways to lure big spenders

The Ottawa Boat and Outdoor show has returned to the EY Centre. Ottawa, Ont. Feb. 22, 2024. (Tyler Fleming / CTV News). The Ottawa Boat and Outdoor show has returned to the EY Centre. Ottawa, Ont. Feb. 22, 2024. (Tyler Fleming / CTV News).
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The annual Ottawa Boat and Outdoor Show has started at the EY Centre in Ottawa, but in the wake of high inflation, the question looms as to whether buyers are still inclined towards splurging on summertime leisure activities.

Among the showcased items at the show include a high-end Malibu powerboat priced at a hefty $229,000, which promises a stylish wakeboarding experience.

For those angling towards a more budget-friendly option, a self-propelled fishing kayak is available and on sale for under $2,000.

"I've been passionate about boating all my life it's just beautiful to be out on the water," said visitor Chris Lavine, a boat-owner who said he was there to browse.

"Whether you don't know what exactly you need to the assortments here, you can ask the professionals of what you want, but owning a boat comes with the maintenance and then you got the storage, the winterizing. It's pretty expensive to keep a boat."

While boat sales surged during the pandemic, the current inflationary pressures have made summertime indulgences a tough sell.

Robert Rodriguez, a sales associate with Hurst Marina has seen an uptick in deal-seekers and with an inventory of new non-current boats, like pontoons and jetskis, many are choosing to take the plunge into ownership.

"It's a good time if you want to get into this type of pleasure, to get involved," he said. "There's a lot of boats to look at and we really try to carry every facet of boating to cover the entire industry."

For those hesitant about boat ownership, the Freedom Boat Club can offer a hassle-free boating experience for around at $3,000 annually after the initial membership fee, providing access to boats in various locations, including the Rideau and Ottawa rivers and in Kingston, along the St. Laurence seaway.

"The biggest reason people join our club is hassle-free boating. So there's no maintenance, there's no cleaning, there's no storage fees, election insurance fees, no repair bills," said Freedom Boat Club's Ottawa owner, Sterling Bown.

"But also if you travel to the U.S. or even to Europe or other parts of Canada, you get access to boats there as well."

Terraflo, a Montreal-based company, offers another unique solution. For those with waterfront access, Terraflo has built a wooden dock, with lounge-style seating and a canopy which is also a Transport Canada approved vessel.

"You basically have a boat that you can serve as a dock extension and you can detach it and go explore your lake if you haven't seen it already and go off and seek the sun wherever it may be," said Terraflo president, Christopher Altork.

"We kept this product under $10,000. We wanted to make it accessible for as many people as possible."

The Ottawa Boat and Outdoor Show continues this weekend at the EY Centre until Sunday and hosts a variety of fishing seminars, food and other activities.

Tickets start at $12 and parking is free.

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