Anyone hoping to own a slice of Lake Ontario might be happy to know that it just became a bit more affordable — well, affordable in the relative sense.

Frenchman's Bay, a 134-acre bay located in Pickering just up the coastline from Scarborough Rouge beach, along with a 34-acre swath of Lake Ontario came on the market late last year with an asking price of $60M. But as of last week, that price dropped down to $40M.

Listings in this tens-of-millions-of-dollars price range can take quite a long time to sell — the buyer pool is typically incredibly small compared to your average listing — so it remaining on the market just a handful of months after it was first listed isn't wholly surprising. But in this case, there hasn't been an absence of offers.

When the Frenchman's Bay listing first came on the market, the City of Pickering expressed interested in purchasing it, along with the neighbouring 591 Liverpool Road — a six-acre commercial property housing the bay's marina service which was listed concurrently for $20M.

The City undertook a market analysis, led by KPMG, to appraise the fair market value of the land, the City of Pickering's website details. Upon completion, the City made an offer for $30M, which the site's owner, Pickering Harbour Company, rejected. The City then proposed buying only the bay "and a portion of the eastern spit lands," which Pickering Harbour Company also rejected.

“We are extremely disappointed that we were unsuccessful in our bid to acquire Frenchman’s Bay at this time, because we feel that it belongs in the public realm,” Pickering Mayor Kevin Ashe said in November. “Frenchman’s Bay is our shimmering jewel, and regardless of its ownership, we will continue to do what we can to protect this beloved asset from environmental degradation as well as inappropriate development, while also ensuring that it remains open and accessible for our community’s enjoyment.”

Whatever buyer does pick up the property will get to own a rare piece of history. In Canada, bodies of water are typically owned by the Crown, but back in 1853 — 14 years before Canadian Confederation — Queen Victoria gave royal assent to an act incorporating Pickering Harbour Company, thereby giving the company the deed to Frenchman's Bay, which included ownership of the land underneath and out into Lake Ontario.

Because of this, Pickering Harbour Company was given exclusive use of (and the right to charge for entrance into) the waterway. Although the charter has received some challenges over the years, it remains in place to this day.

As unusual as that may be, perhaps the most unexpected part of the property is that the waterways are actually zoned for residential use, meaning they're ripe for a developer to come in and build a collection of floating homes. In fact, it's what the listing heavily advertises.

On its website, the City of Pickering says that "it is important that Frenchman’s Bay and the surrounding lands be in public ownership in order to safeguard from aggressive and overly ambitious development proposals."

"The City is committed to preserving the unique character of its waterfront, and has successfully rejected development applications in the past," the site reads. "Moving forward, staff and Council will hold any other waterfront development applications to the same rigorous standards."

Real Estate News