A killer of a deal indeed.
In a stunning agreement announced late Wednesday night outside the Angel Inn pub in Niagara-on-the-Lake, the City of Hamilton is taking possession of Marineland’s wildlife population, and will house the collection of sea animals in a revamped, salty Hamilton Harbour.
The acquisition of several killer and beluga whales, some dolphins, and a smattering of poor-sighted sea lions stands to transform the tourism culture in Hamilton, says Joyce Satani, incoming head of tourism for the city.
“This will be transformative,” she said. “I mean, Niagara Falls has waterfalls, obviously, but we have several more here. Adding their jumping whales and dolphins to our tourism portfolio will be just … transformative.”
Added Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina, “I have visions … visions of thousands of people lining the shores of our harbour watch the playful antics of our new marine life. What a city.”
Marineland owner John Holer said he was approached by the Hamilton Port Authority about possibly moving the animals to Hamilton Harbour for a weekend show in the summer, to bump up sagging tourism. One thing led to another, he said, and the permanent deal was done over a few beers and a basket of onion rings.
“I don’t want them no more,” spat Holer. “Too much trouble and stink. You have now. I throw in Polka Legend Walter Ostanek.”
In addition to the sea mammals, the City of Hamilton also gets ownership of the coveted Marineland jingle, Everyone Loves Marineland. Plans are to have Hamilton jazz songstress and Seniors Head vocalist Jude Johnson cut a new version for the heaviest possible airplay on radio and TV.
The move will not be a cheap one.
Councillor Lloyd Ferguson said the city will spend $500 million on a salt-making machine for the harbour, and another $200 million for a massive gate underneath the SkywayBridge. Heat generated from the ongoing Randle Reef cleanup will bring the newly salinated harbour up to proper temperature regulation.
With killer whales soon to be cruising through the area, the city is leaning toward banning swimming at most spots in the bay, or at least posting Swim at Your Own Risk signs, to limit litigation. Regular helicopter drops of fresh mackerel should keep the whales and dolphins quite happy.
The city has no plans to hire trainers at this time, Bratina said.
“We think the whales and dolphins will be happy enough in our harbour that they’ll just jump on their own, won’t need commands and whatnot.”