In the 1970s, Captain John’s Restaurant was a must-visit on the fine dining scene in Toronto. The years have not been kind to the old ship formally named the Jadran, and for many years it has been considered an eyesore and a blight on Toronto’s waterfront. Developers have been champing at the bit for decades, eager to get their hands on the ship’s prime location at the foot of Yonge Street.
The legal battles surrounding the floating restaurant and banquet hall have been epic. After decades of fighting and appeals, the old Captain John’s ship will be embarking on its final voyage pretty soon. At this point the ship’s future is uncertain, but what is certain is the environmental nightmare that will unfold no matter what happens to the old boat.
The entrepreneur who bought the troubled vessel is an avid sailor, so there is hope for the faithful that he will attempt to restore it to its former glory and find a new home for the ship. If that is the course of action, there’s a long road ahead of him in the restoration efforts. The old ship is likely to be an environmentalist’s worst nightmare with asbestos and lead paint lurking at every turn. The restoration process will require towing the ship to a dry dock and will likely take years, to say nothing of the enormous expense the project will entail.
Another option for the ship, and frankly the more likely one, is demolition. Like any demolition project, the environmental concerns are at the top of the list. There aren’t many companies that are skilled in Type 1, 2, and 3 asbestos abatements and are able to provide safe disposal of hazardous materials (though we happen to know where you can find one…) Finding a way to safely dispose of that much contaminated waste is going to present a huge challenge. The processing facility is likely to see a NIMBY protest unlike any that has ever been seen before.
According to the Toronto Star article referenced above, the costs of demolishing the ship are likely to be significantly higher than what it will bring in salvage value. This one will be a labour of love. Whether you loved or hated the old ship, you have until August 22 to go say your goodbyes. That is the deadline for the ship to be removed from its slip.
Though you’re unlikely to find yourself in possession of an aging maritime liner in the near future, the story of Captain John’s is one you should try to keep in mind when purchasing a home of your own. The building materials of yore are the gift that keeps on giving in the form of harmful chemicals like lead and asbestos. Be sure to keep the number of an environmental remediation company handy!
“Jadran” by SimonP – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons