The giant duck brought bang for the buck to Toronto's waterfront
Waterfront businesses give credit for huge Canada Day crowds to the mighty duck.
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Toronto’s infamous duck has floated away, but not before inflating the city’s bottom line.
Waterfront businesses say this Canada Day long weekend was their busiest ever. And the duck is to thank.
“It was definitely the busiest Canada Day long weekend we’d ever seen,” said Trevor Brodie, Amsterdam BrewHouse’s director of operations. “Everyone was coming down to see the duck so it’s 1-0 for the duck I think.”
While the Toronto islands were closed, pushing crowds to the waterfront, Brodie says everyone who showed up at Amsterdam asked the same question: “Where’s the duck?”
“It was definitely a busy week for everyone down here. Everybody on the patios got up and was taking selfies. They were loving it,” Brodie added. “It was pretty cool to see all the young kids get up close to the big duck – it was the coolest thing they’d ever seen. All-in-all it was a great addition to the waterfront.”
Redpath Waterfront Festival organizers say they cleared half a million visitors on the first day, smashing previous three-day records. Lea Parrell, the festival’s co-producer, expects 2017’s economic impact study to far exceed the $4.2 million they helped generate from non-local tourists in 2015.
She says the Radisson Hotel’s Starbucks had to close down on Saturday after selling out.
“I have been in this business a long time and I have never, ever seen crowds like that,” she said. “You couldn’t move. It was unbelievable. At one point, it was like ‘oh my goodness, I’m a little worried, there’s so many people down here’.”
The city’s water taxis, struggling this summer due to the island’s closure, got a boost.
“Massive duck made a massive lineup,” said Tiki Taxi’s Luc Cote. “It was easily three times the amount of business we would have had.”
While most Canada Day long weekends only provide the water taxis a boost on July 1, Cote says he had his full fleet running 30-minute trips onto the water for all three days.
“We were actually busier on the holiday Monday than we were on Canada Day,” he said. “It compensated for the island being closed, that’s for sure. We actually really, really needed something like the duck to get people out on the water.”
Eleanor McMahon, Ontario’s minister of tourism, culture and sport, said in a statement that the duck was a success.
“The crowds lining up to see the duck and the economic boost for local economies indicates that our investments are effective and critically important for our tourism sector.”
Parrell says the duck was money well spent and that all but a US$21,000 rental fee of Redpath’s $121,325 grant went to marketing, fencing, a crane, a tugboat, and security they needed anyways.
The local businesses agree.
“It was massively busy down here and it was people coming to see the duck,” said Cote.
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