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A ship, a tower and 'Porter'

Monday, January 20, 2014   by: Darren Taylor

City of Sault Ste. Marie staff reports regarding three well-known Sault Ste. Marie landmarks will be provided to City Council Monday.

One concerns the fate of the MS Norgoma (pictured here in much warmer weather).

The historic ferry has financially struggled for years as a museum ship on the Sault Ste. Marie waterfront.

Five-year funding for the Norgoma ended in 2012, however Council approved funding for another year in 2013 at the request of the St. Mary's River Marine Heritage Centre (SMRMHC), the group which operates the Norgoma.

Council will now consider an exit strategy regarding its support of the vessel.

Commissioner of Community Services Nick Apostle, in a report to Council, outlines three options for Council to consider.

Based on information provided to the City by STEM Engineering Group, demolition of the Norgoma on-site would cost an estimated $500,000.

A second option would be to partially demolish the ship on-site, with final demolition offsite (involving removal of the upper portion of the ship on-site, then the remainder tugged away to a ship breaking yard for final demolition), at an estimated cost of $200,000 to $240,000.  

The third option, which is recommended by City staff, is for the marina docks to be removed, the basin surrounding the Norgoma's stern to be dredged, then the ship to be removed for demolition at a ship breaking yard.

Total responsibility for the ship's demolition would then be borne by others, the report notes.

That option is estimated to cost $200,000 to $300,000.

The third option is considered by City staff to be the best, as it would mean the least involvement by the City, reduced environmental risk, and a chance to dredge the entire marina to desired depths while the docks are removed temporarily.

Another item up for Council's consideration concerns the Memorial Tower.

A report prepared by Commissioner Apostle outlines the need for short-term repairs to be performed on the Memorial Tower, as recommended by Tulloch Engineering.

While the adjoining Essar Centre underwent a structural inspection in 2012 (as required every five years), a consulting engineer also did a basic inspection of the Memorial Tower and recommended some components of the structure be repaired "within the next couple of years, or the tower should be demolished."

Last year, Council brought in Tulloch Engineering for a complete inspection.

Necessary short-term repairs, the firm stated, include securing of all loose or damaged portions of the structure's copper roof cladding, pinpointing and addressing existing concrete or concrete patches that are loose and in danger of falling, and providing a protection structure to allow safe access to electrical panels at the tower's interior base. 

The engineer's report states that parts of the copper roof cladding are loose, and could blow off in the event of strong winds.

Portions of the Memorial Tower's concrete and/or concrete patches could become loose, a serious hazard to people or vehicles below. 

Tulloch recommended the short-term repairs be done and remain in place for a maximum of five years.

Long-term solutions would be referred to future City budgets.

Commissioner Apostle's report states the estimated cost for the short-term solution work is $22,000, however $30,000 is the figure included in the 2014 Capital Budget request.

It is recommended that this amount be referred to Council's 2014 budget deliberations.

Third, Council will be informed about the Bellevue Park Locomotive's status under the Ontario Heritage Act.

The locomotive (popularly known as "Porter") was given to the City in the late 1960s by the Algoma Steel Corporation and placed in Bellevue Park, where it served as a play apparatus until 2006.

Because of liability concerns, the locomotive was discontinued as a play apparatus in 2006 by the City and fenced off.

City Council approved a request from the Sault Ste. Marie Municipal Heritage Committee (SSMMHC) to designate the locomotive under the Ontario Heritage Act in 2011.

Porter's condition has deteriorated over the years however, and the SSMMHC has questioned the colours used by the City in a 2013 paint job.

In what has become a complicated matter, the City has come to agree with the Ontario Heritage Act's definition of what should or should not be designated under the Act.

Because the locomotive, while being a heavy object,  is not fixed to the property it sits on (as a "fixture"), it is considered a moveable object (or "chattel") and therefore not eligible for designation under the Act.

Because the SSMMHC wants the locomotive to be protected, Council will recommend to the Committee that the locomotive's Heritage status be rescinded so that it can be regularly but inexpensively maintained. 


Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
sportsman 1/20/2014 9:27:31 AM Report

Sink the ship in the middle of lake superior good haven for fish.
bruizzed 1/20/2014 9:28:40 AM Report

Just thinking outside the box
Let's do something different in the Sault
Create an entertainment attraction for the
Sault and create a unique restaurant/bar

I'm sure a lot of people might have some innovative ideas

chatterbox 1/20/2014 9:30:13 AM Report

what about the leave it there and continue to fund it option? How much per year does that cost?
molder2 1/20/2014 9:39:17 AM Report

Make it a floating casino and brothel.
ShawnM 1/20/2014 9:41:35 AM Report

I agree, clean it out and sink it somewhere, then use it to promote diving. They are doing this in other areas making ships, planes... into diving wrecks. The marine life will build itself around the wreck too.
bounder 1/20/2014 9:41:37 AM Report

Scrap it and use the money for helpless people, or is that to mindboggling .
Paddlenut 1/20/2014 9:45:15 AM Report

It's mindboggling that in a story about liabilities that the Ship presents for the City, you think it can be sold for profit.
dadal 1/20/2014 9:49:51 AM Report

Paddlenut, Thunder bay at one time wanted that ship so why haven't they put it up for sale? Now if anyone has been in it the last few years, you know that the upkeep-or lack of-is deplorable! Most rooms and not finished and personally that ship was NOT worth the admission price they charge. A floating eatery or even a summer motel would be nice. But I think we should try and sell it first and put money to where it is needd. And as for "Porter", pay the liabilithy insurance and let kids enjoy that train again!
Jimssm 1/20/2014 9:54:15 AM Report

The Norgoma needs to go. The City has already extended funding by an extra year against the recommendation of staff.

The Norgoma supporters were supposed to open a restaurant and host wedding receptions there with the last funding they got, and none of that happened.

They have no plan for the future, other than 'leave it there'.
Paddlenut 1/20/2014 10:11:49 AM Report

The Norgoma gets $15 000 in annual funding from the City. You're not going to open restaurants and banquet halls on that budget. If the City were to spend $300 000 to remove it, that's the equivalent of 20 years of continuing to subsidize it. Perhaps in 20 years, the Sault will be a different place, and have a different attitude about preserving its heritage. For those of you wishing its quick demise, mark your calendars for 2034...the countdown to savings begins!
Koss 1/20/2014 10:16:45 AM Report

"Just thinking outside the box
Let's do something different in the Sault
Create an entertainment attraction for the
Sault and create a unique restaurant/bar

I'm sure a lot of people might have some innovative ideas"

The restaurant/bar idea was done about 15 years ago and was a huge flop.
keemobear 1/20/2014 10:33:39 AM Report

toady 1/20/2014 10:42:44 AM Report

The city is becoming a wasteland. Less things to catch the tourists eye . We dont seem to want to preserve any items from our past.The biggest attraction in town is Walmart. What items from our past are we going to do away with next. We dont seem to mind paying two aldermen or women per ward but when it comes to our cultural past ---goodbye.
Riverpilot 1/20/2014 11:25:03 AM Report

It's a shame there are so many ignorant people in this town that seem to have no respect to the city's history or those that have contributed to the development of this unique community. The Norgoma was once one of three passenger/car ferries that operated between Manitoulin and the Bruce Penninsula. As a child, it was an exciting venture to sail on it making the trip to Toronto very memorable. The Norgoma also served the smaller communities along the North Shore such as Thessalon and Hilton Beach carrying goods and passengers. At one time, there were literally hundreds of passenger ships that sailed all over the Great lakes and they are all gone. The government dock (now home to Purvis Marine)saw many magnificent passenger steamships such as the Keewatin, Assiniboia and Octorara. It is time to preserve a little of our history and teach our children how our grandparents strived to make the city what it is today......once it's gone, we often regret what we've lost. Most people in this city have no idea of the commercial shipping industry at our doorstep, the operation of the lock system and the many ships from around the world that pass through our city. I've actually met people from abroad who actually thought the St. Mary's River was composed of salt water like the ocean. The tour boat is now gone and soon the local tour train will be a figment of history.
If a small community like Manitowaning can show case the "Norisle" (Norgoma's sistership)and consider putting her back into service, I think our city council can spare a few dollars to preserve some history on our waterfront. What happened to the Skip Manzutti Marine Historical Center that was to encompass the Norgoma? Personnally, I believe the ship should be moved close to the Bushplane Museum where all the attractions are kept centrally together. I will guarantee that it will see more visitors.
History and preservation is what makes a city unique!
eadiecougs 1/20/2014 11:40:42 AM Report

I agree with toady why do we need two aldermen or woman we would save over a hundred thousand dollars a year with just one its BS thats all it is.The city is not moving ahead but backwards.
Pakadeva 1/20/2014 11:56:16 AM Report

How about contacting schools & suggesting the Norgoma as one of the historic "class trips" for the year & gather funding that way? Think outside the box by contacting schools outside the Soo. My kids always had to come up with fees for any class trips, kids today can as well. If the kids have fun, it will be repeat business every year.
Pakadeva 1/20/2014 11:56:17 AM Report

How about contacting schools & suggesting the Norgoma as one of the historic "class trips" for the year & gather funding that way? Think outside the box by contacting schools outside the Soo. My kids always had to come up with fees for any class trips, kids today can as well. If the kids have fun, it will be repeat business every year.
bounder 1/20/2014 11:56:38 AM Report

River pilot,
I understand your sentiments, however there's a beginning and end to everything.
Scrapping it would be the best,the steel and precious metals would get to be reused, a new life in another form.
Mark E. 1/20/2014 12:41:21 PM Report

If tourists or local's are not visiting the site you have to look at alternatives. We can't keep dishing out city funds to maintain the Norgoma.
Sam C 1/20/2014 1:15:53 PM Report

Riverpilot... I agree. I would like to see all of our transportation heritage honoured -- air, rail and maritime. Unfortunately, there just isn't a recognition of our local history, here.

A handful of people make the effort, but overall it's overlooked by local residents. Some tourists do come to the Bushplane Centre, but there really isn't a big draw for the Norgoma, and one old steam engine does not make an attraction.
Berian 1/20/2014 1:42:25 PM Report

I would love it if I could sail the Georgian Bay and North Channel on the Norgoma like generations before me used to do. Like a cruise ship, I would like to leave from the Sault stopping at different ports for overnights and festivals etc. and return back to the Sault.
I'm In 1/20/2014 2:20:19 PM Report

Riverpilot call me what you want but its time to get your head out of the sand and start thinking in the 21st Century. These are not historic sights they are eyesores and liabilities, that is why the city wants out of the business of operating these so called tourist attraction. Riverpilot why don't you put your money in these two eyesores if you want them revived and think people will visit. I am tired of my municipal tax dollars being wasted on such things that is why the city is recommending them shut down. (Way to go Nick Apostle)
The North American economy has not been good for the past 10 to 15 years, people have to budget more and more everyday just to stay above water, which means there is not enough left for their entertainment dollars/budget. Just look at the CN Snow Train and Searchmont Valley Ski Resort they haven't made money in years, tourist just aren't visiting anymore or like they used to, so good luck to all that think these so called tourist attractions need to be revived, just put your money into them.

P.S. And cull the geese population at Bellevue Park and bring the local bands back on Sundays, people will come back for a nonminal fee.
learningaswego 1/20/2014 2:21:42 PM Report

When each of these issues came up, starting years ago, if rational minds and common sense had prevailed - instead of sentimentality; we (taxpayers) would have saved ourselves MILLIONS which could have been put to much better use.
Take the tower (please!)- if it had been demolished at the same time as the Gardens, would have cost us peanuts relative to now.
Now, we have to maintain this thing, or pay the now the horrendous cost of removing it - for something that is essentially useless. We could have easily and cheaply added a flashing red light to the Essar Centre.
learningaswego 1/20/2014 2:25:11 PM Report

If there was a (tourist) market - that is a solid business case - to "sail the Great Lakes" on some kind of overnight passenger vessel, somebody would likely be doing it.
sportsfan17 1/20/2014 4:23:22 PM Report

Sorry learningaswego but the memorial tower needs to stay. Have you forgotten what it represents? The rink is gone, it needed to happen but the tower needs to stay. It's an important part of local history and Canadian history. Too many men and women fought and gave their lives to just simply "knock it down".
mawk 1/20/2014 5:35:28 PM Report

I wonder if Porter could be relocated into the Bush Plane museum?

It would be out of the elements and could be easily maintained and enjoyed.
northernmale 1/20/2014 5:51:08 PM Report

Well stated sports fan, shows the ignorance of some posters. My guess has never been inside it and has no idea what is in it or what it stands for. I think the Norgoma should have all the artifact's taken out of it and put on display else were .And the asbestos and fuel tanks removed, then taken out and sunk. Would make an excellent dive site.As far as porter goes maybe it should go some place and put on display as well. Maybe go back to Essar and put out side the gate on display.They make lots play ground equipment that is much safer for kids to play on.
learningaswego 1/20/2014 7:04:13 PM Report

There is nothing inside the tower, there genii.
The memorial things are actually inside the Essar Centre - you know, so people can actually see them.
But hey, don't take my word for it, go and ask for a "tour" of the tower.
Then, when the person gets up off the floor from laughing, go inside the Essar and view the memorial items.
northernmale 1/20/2014 8:45:21 PM Report

learningaswego we are not talking hockey pictures here. We are talking about the wall with all the man and woman who gave there life for our freedom. So people like you can post.As I said you have never been inside the tower.
zr800 1/20/2014 10:01:51 PM Report

ssm ont.. so we are naturally gifted .. we have nothing to begin with... less to offer.. to many people at city hall..BELLEVUE PARK waste of land and money to have dogs shit there .. a ski hill that rapes us for money every year a steel company that owes $$$$$$$.. to venders.. streets that suck.. traffic lights all over the place.. a disgusting beach.. yes we are naturally gifted.. but we have less then ECHO BAY..
soowat 1/21/2014 2:20:42 AM Report

The biggest problem we have is all the negative people in this city--you know, the ones with a vocabulary consisting of one word. That world is "sucks."

Instead, come up with some suggestions.
learningaswego 1/21/2014 8:31:29 AM Report

Yu are wrong, northern male. I have been inside the tower - years ago, when it had memorial pictures in it.
You're living in ages past, my friend. But don't take my word for it, go see for yourself.
RaginRon 1/21/2014 9:45:06 AM Report

As an out of town investor I think a great source of income for the city would be to transform this lovely magnificent vessel into a floating museum, shrine, and theme park to honor the great Eric Lindros and all of his success over his career. Who know, this could even become the first UNESCO World heritage site for the Soo! There is such rich and deep history with Lindros that I believe this would be a HUGE hit for the city and a major win for everyone!!
learningaswego 1/21/2014 10:21:48 AM Report

What about the part that Lindros never played here as a Greyhound?
Do you mean a museum or whatever, in honour of how well we did by trading Lindros after he wouldn't come?
Or, did I just miss some rather subtle sarcasm? LOL
flyhawk25 1/21/2014 1:49:29 PM Report

Of course.
Can we just rid our precious waterfront of this blight once and for all?
It has no commercial merit, little historical significance and continues to serve as a reminder of how a few zealots talked the city into hanging an environmental and aesthetic piece of junk on our wallets year after year.
IB-fine 1/21/2014 2:02:20 PM Report

I thought years ago the Norgoma was suppose to get together with Sault College and have the Hotel & Restaurant and Chefs training classes work there in the summer and provide not only a restaurant but also some rooms to spend the night? Summer jobs for the students and something actually useful and profitable going on inside of the ship. What happened to those ideas and promises? That was a great idea to make the ship self supporting and bring it back to life, instead of sitting there rusting out as it does now.

With the Memorial Tower, it's suppose to be open to the public to see the city's war time history and people that served in the Armed Forces during both World Wars. I think the last time I was in it was as a kid to help get the wreaths out for Remembrance Day. It still needs to be preserved as a Memorial Tower to those who have served. Fix it and allow tours of the building, especially in the summer!

Train at Bellevue Park has been a bummer since the insurance companies made the city fence it off! I think the whole 13 years I was in public school here I only knew of one person that fell off and broke their wrist by their own stupidity. Did the family sue or go for insurance? NO! I guess now the insurance companies expect everyone to sue and not take responsibility for their own actions!

To the poster who blames the poop on dogs 98% of dog owners are great at picking up their dog's mess. The poo you see is from the geese not the dogs! The city does have a machine that virtually vacuums this up but I don't think they use it enough and yes it's time to cull or relocate some of these geese!

Every one of these issues has a logical answer, but just getting rid of it, isn't always the answer.
northernmale 1/21/2014 2:05:07 PM Report

learningaswego--I apologize to you if your rite. I have not been inside the tower since the gardens was tore down. I am looking into what you said about it now. If the names are no longer on the wall where about in the Essar building are they??
learningaswego 1/21/2014 2:13:54 PM Report

" tower....fix it up and have tours"'re kidding, right??
Even if it were a "building" which it isn't (it's a big, ugly, expensive to maintain hunk of concrete), a "tour" of the inside base would take about 5 seconds to see it all - twice.
learningaswego 1/21/2014 2:16:06 PM Report

northenmale, I think there are some right inside the lobby, and I don't recall exactly where others are. But, it's usually open during the day, so go in and have a browse - or ask. It also looks a thousand times better than anything that was previously in the "tower".
RaginRon 1/21/2014 3:53:05 PM Report

Learningaswego, Lindros is a significant icon and role model to the community. As a native American investor with projects already in the Soo, this would be beneficial for all parties, brining in financial results as well as satisfying the community with the rockstar that Lindros is. The Soo would get their hero Eric Lindros the exhibit he warrants & deserves. I can picture the big #88, as well as a portrait of his face just plastered on the side of the ship already. Also, I would recommend a name change to the MS Big E.
learningaswego 1/21/2014 4:05:19 PM Report

Maybe I'm missing the sarcasm, Ragin Ron; or maybe.....

you do know that Lindros never really played for the Sault? The Hounds drafted him, he refused to play here, so they traded him for a gold mine of talent, who then went on to do us proud.

The only times Lindros played here, as far as I remember, was as a visiting OHL opponent. I can still hear the boos every time he touched the puck.

So, am I missing something here, or...?
RaginRon 1/21/2014 4:53:44 PM Report

No, no I'm just looking at this as a commercially viable project. The marketability of the Big E in the Soo is tremendous. Everyone loves him!! His face painted on the entire side of that ship would do wonders, he is admired by all.
zr800 1/21/2014 8:26:55 PM Report

SOOWAT; you want a suggestion here it is..turn BELLEVUE PARK in to a trailer park and use the money to fix the tower,
Tag33&1/3rd 1/26/2014 12:12:03 AM Report

loose lips - sink ships!

AC/DC says to sink the bloody ship!
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