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Norgoma to survive another year?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014   by: Darren Taylor

The Norgoma may yet survive as a museum ship on the Sault Ste. Marie waterfront for another year.

At its regular meeting Tuesday, City Council, in the first of two recorded votes, rejected by a count of 6-4 a City staff recommendation to end ongoing City financial support for the vessel and pursue an "exit strategy" whereby the Norgoma's surrounding marina docks would be temporarily removed, the basin surrounding its stern dredged, and the vessel itself taken to a ship breaking yard.

That exit strategy would have cost the City between $200,000 to $300,000.

Voting to reject City staff's recommendation were Acting Mayor Terry Sheehan and Councillors Lou Turco, Steve Butland, Susan Myers, Brian Watkins and Pat Mick.

Voting to accept the recommendation were Councillors Marchy Bruni, Joe Krmpotich, Rick Niro and Frank Fata.

Mayor Debbie Amaroso, along with Councillors Paul Christian and Frank Manzo, were absent.

In a second recorded vote, the same Council members voted 6-4 in favour of a new resolution that called for funding for the Norgoma for a further year to be included in 2014 City Budget deliberations.

The resolution stated that 2013 saw an increase in visitor numbers to the Norgoma and that more time is needed to build and enhance a Cultural Corridor partnership (consisting of various historical tourist attractions) along the Sault's waterfront. 

A request for continued funding was made to Council in a presentation by Norgoma Board member Jim Waycik (with added support from Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre Executive Director Mike Delfre).

Norgoma Board President Louis Muio, in a letter to Council dated February 18, stated that “excellent progress in the development of the ship” has been made over the past six years with City support, and that in 2013 there was “a large increase in attendance, and much more use of the ship for public events.”

The Norgoma originally served as a passenger ferry throughout the 1950s to the early 1970s along the north shore of Lake Huron, connecting various communities in the area with Sault Ste. Marie.

The St. Mary's River Marine Heritage Centre (SMRMHC), the group which now operates the Norgoma as a museum ship, has attempted throughout the years to make the vessel into a profitable tourist attraction, with the help of ongoing City funding.

Though historic in nature, the ship has been a financially challenged tourist attraction on the Sault Ste. Marie riverfront for decades.

The City had a five-year agreement in place with the St. Mary’s River Marine Heritage Centre beginning in 2007 whereby the Norgoma would receive $15,000 in City funding annually for five years, with the understanding the Norgoma would not be subsidized by the City beyond 2012.

However, in 2013, the City gave $15,000 in funding to the Norgoma for the 2013 season only, with the intention of deciding on any future City funding moving forward. 

On Tuesday, Waycik said that in return for continued financial support from the City, the Norgoma provides summer employment for students, an historic link to Northern Ontario's past, a visible presence on the St. Marys River, and a component of the Cultural Corridor that runs from the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre to the Parks Canada site.  

Ward Two City Councillor Susan Myers pleaded with Council not to "pull the plug" on the Norgoma.

Ward Three City Councillor Pat Mick said the cost of City support for the Norgoma was preferable in comparison to the costly exit strategy recommended by City staff.

Other Councillors, such as Ward Four's Rick Niro and Ward Five's Marchy Bruni, felt that ongoing use of City funds for supporting the Norgoma had to come to an end.


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.
guard1 2/18/2014 11:47:13 PM Report

I must assume that the councillers that voted in favour of continued funding for another year are far wiser then the planning staff that recommended to stop the funding. We pay good money for the planning staff to advise council and they turn down there recommendations. Unbelievable! I challenge you councillers that voted for the continuation of the funding to put your money where your mouth is and donate to the Norgoma to keep it going and show the citizens of the Sault that you are truly concerned about spending taxpayer money.
moosehead1966 2/18/2014 11:48:45 PM Report

Hey Susan..Speaking about 'pulling the plug'..Just about time isn't it?? You are done me thinks come next election.. :)
jojoe71 2/18/2014 11:54:27 PM Report

only way to make money on that scrap is to turn it into a floating casino.
Tag33&1/3rd 2/19/2014 12:45:01 AM Report

Maybe Studio 10 could buy it? Weren't they planning to move to Al's Pub in January and open a brothel? Would be easier to get rid of that idea if they were sink-able.

Tag33&1/3rd 2/19/2014 12:48:58 AM Report

As per my favorite rock band:


"Loose Lips - Sink Ships"

Ty2g 2/19/2014 12:50:43 AM Report

I wish Terry Sheehan would stay as Mayor! Well respected easy to talk to and cares, I actually seen him attend a Soo Thunderbirds game and congratulate them on there success! Our own Mayor didn't even know who they were, and they were ranked first in Canada! I would much rather see him as Mayor!!!
Javaman 2/19/2014 7:25:28 AM Report

This city council lacks backbone. They cannot bring themselves to make tough decisions. They are best at sending tough decisions to a committee to look at. It is time to replace the whole bunch...AND...we only need one councillor per ward.
1fish2fish 2/19/2014 7:31:48 AM Report

Have Louis Muio move his boat and park it beside that eyesore. Whatever it costs move that pos out of there and get it over with. Pine street marina is short on slips for paying boaters and some are getting sub standard spots dangerously close to the rocks. Let these people have slips at a better, mostly empty marina. Paying Pine street boaters support Bondars transient marina yet very few transient boaters stay there. Can't blame them with that heap of scrap there. Open it up and make money off the cities paying boaters. After all it's our city and we pay the taxes to build these facilities.
Spellchecker 2/19/2014 8:16:09 AM Report

Ever hear of the turkey trail? It was a big part of the history of this area.
karenw 2/19/2014 8:44:34 AM Report

I watched this counsel meeting and was shocked to see the lack of backbone by some of our city counsellors. Quit flogging a dead horse. They stated that tourism is down, Why??? We have a lot to offer to get people to cross that bridge they have to find a way to market it. If they would have put a marina hotel and casino at Bellevue park people would have been boating there from all over the world. I have respect for the volunteers that have tried to make a go of this but it is over, time to move on, and time to think outside the box and market this city so the rest of the world could see what we have to offer.
D.R.R. 2/19/2014 9:07:15 AM Report

I can see the logic. Either it is going to cost the city $200,000 to $300,000 to scrap the ship or the city can provide $15,000 a year funding. At $200,000, it would be cheaper to fund the ship $15,000 a year for the next 13 years and hopefully in that time (or sooner), see increases in the Norgoma's self-sufficiency.
flyhawk25 2/19/2014 9:09:23 AM Report

Spelly...if you're so enamored with the boat how about we stick it at the marina at Hilton Beach?
stugots44 2/19/2014 9:31:47 AM Report

What an eyesore, sure to bring more tourists here. Who wouldn't want to go into that sweat bucket on a hot summer day. Great move by our elected officials.
doggs 2/19/2014 9:34:19 AM Report

This Ship Is a Eye Sore ''Spending Good Money on This Project ..Is wasting Tax Payers Hard earned Dollars ...Shame On City Council '''
ThinkAgain 2/19/2014 9:57:54 AM Report

If its not making money, time to pull anchor (sell it for scrap)
Time for fresh blood come election time and stop the foolish spending.
ThinkAgain 2/19/2014 9:59:30 AM Report

I'm surprised there not going to spend $50K for a study to prove to the planning department there right.
Ski-Dude 2/19/2014 11:05:51 AM Report

Cut it up already. We have the old stone house to attract tourists....
R0FL0L 2/19/2014 11:38:37 AM Report

Thank you Spellchecker for the web site. Good History and I would support the Norgoma.
Destroy this part of history and will not come back.
If we can not have a restaurant on the ship, maybe it has to be moved to the Bushplane Museum? But I can hear all the complaints because that move would cost a few $. The water level in 2014 might come up enough that 2014 is a good year to explore this option?
The ship should also be moored with the side open and a few Oldtimer lined up as if entering the ferry. Make History more alive and "hand-on".
Kids would be curious, wanting to see and learn.
Tourism might improve too, as the "Loonie" is loosing and it is predicted to even go down more, traffic on the Bridge just might turn around and the Americans come over here again.
Good Luck and don't listen to the "nay-Sayer"
jimbobdog1 2/19/2014 1:06:24 PM Report

Did any of you idiots study arithmetic. If it costs $15000 a year to keep it and $200000 to $300000 to get rid of it, simple arithmetic tells us to keep it. It is a valid piece of history and $15k per year is pretty cheap compared to some of the things council wastes our money on.
Aerobow 2/19/2014 1:23:05 PM Report

I like the boat and don't consider it an eyesore. It was a vitial link back in the day to cockburn island.
thesharr 2/19/2014 1:58:27 PM Report

Cut it up for scrap,Essar will do it cheap.
guard1 2/19/2014 2:13:25 PM Report

jimbobdog1, like everything else that is in water and and sees four seasons eventually succumbs to those conditions and damage occurrs. Who is going to pay for thoses repairs? The city and the taxpayers will be on the hook for those expenses. And what if there is damage to the hull that prevents the boat from being towed out. It will have to be dismantled there onsite at an enormous cost. The reason we pay good wages for a planning staff is to advise us of the best options to take to benefit the taxpayers. Those councillers that voted to continue funding against planning staff recommendations do not have the best interest of the taxpayers in mind when they make shorterm decisions like this. We need some fresh faces in council and this is the year to make this happen.
V-max 2/19/2014 2:33:15 PM Report

Get rid of this floating eyesore. Do you ever see anyone going onto it? I do the hub trail on the waterfront on a regular basis and I never see anyone near it. Time to sink it or cut it up for scrap. They're just prolonging the agony. Make room for better things, like more slips or newer innovative things.
guard1 2/19/2014 2:58:49 PM Report

V-max I also do the boardwalk on a regular basis and I very seldom see people entering the boat. If they get 3000 visitors a season the 15000 dollar funding equates to a 5 dollar subsidy for each visitor. Why does the taxpayer have to pay for each visitor to tour this boat.

TaxiManSteve 2/19/2014 5:47:38 PM Report

It would be sad the see the Norgoma go the way of the Great Lakes Towing Co salvage tug Favorite which was towed to DeTour and broken up... Favorite once resided next to the S S Valley Camp across the river.

I hope you are better than that... The Favorite was the Upper Lakes version of the S S Foundation Franklin ( Farley Mowat )

Figure a way to keep Norgoma viable. Make the Canadian Sault more than just another casino stop.

ABigelow 2/19/2014 10:43:32 PM Report

The council made the right decision supporting the ship for another year. The cheapest cost to scrap the ship was 13 times the cost of the annual upkeep the ship gets from the city. $15,000.00 to preserve the areas history versus $200,000.00 for nothing. Seems the opponents of the ship are penny wise and pound foolish.
macgyvr 2/19/2014 11:14:27 PM Report

I think it's time to set it free. It's been a good ship. Made a few friends and no money. Could have invested the money we poured into it and it could have fed City Council for a few months.
ABigelow 2/20/2014 7:57:02 AM Report

So mcgyvr, you think spending $200,000.00 to save $15,000.00 is a good idea? I would hate to think what your finances must look like.
Tag33&1/3rd 2/20/2014 8:02:27 AM Report

Thanks for this link! It was interesting--we need to keep it going!
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