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A ship, a tower and 'Porter'

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).

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. 



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Darren Taylor

About the Author: Darren Taylor

Darren Taylor is a news reporter and photographer in Sault Ste Marie. He regularly covers community events, political announcements and numerous board meetings. With a background in TV and Radio, Darren has been a reporter for 15 years.
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