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Italo Ferrari apologizes to City of Sault Ste. Marie

Comment about concentration camp was ‘inappropriate’
Hospital site developer Italo Ferrari leaves Sault Ste. Marie city council meeting on Dec. 12, 2022

Woodbridge, Ont. developer Italo Ferrari has apologized for his conduct at Monday's city council meeting.

"I am writing to formally apologize for the comment I made during the city council meeting held on December 12, 2022," Ferrari said in a letter sent to the city this afternoon.

"My comment that erecting a fence to secure the property may resemble a ‘concentration camp’ was inappropriate and offensive, particularly to members of the Jewish community."

"I sincerely regret that suggestion."

"I was wrong in my selection of words at that moment, and I assure you it will not happen again," Ferrari wrote.

Ferrari is the general manager of Leisure Meadows Community Living Inc., owner of the former Sault Area Hospital site on Queen Street East.

As SooToday first reported last night, Ward 3 Coun. Angela Caputo and Ward 5 Coun. Corey Gardi walked out of Monday's council meeting after Ferrari used the phrase "concentration camp" to describe what the decrepit hospital site would look like if securely fenced.

The councillors left the council chambers near the end of a 50-minute session at which Ferrari repeatedly blamed the entire community for the former hospital's condition.

Ferrari was answering questions from Mayor Matthew Shoemaker about repeated break-ins at the waterfront buildings.

Earlier today, the mayor issued a sharply worded statement about Ferrari's conduct before city council.

“During Monday evening’s debate on the issue of the property standards of the old General Hospital, the owner’s representative, Italo Ferrari, stated that because of the difficulties he has had securing the old General Hospital from continued breaking and entering, he would need to consider erecting a ‘10 foot fence to close it off like a concentration camp,'" Shoemaker said.

"In the heat of the debate, I did not call out Mr. Ferrari’s ignorance as I should have in that moment. Mr. Ferrari’s entire performance before city council showed a stunning lack of self-awareness."

"However, the ignorance of this particular comment is astonishing to the point of requiring a forceful condemnation. Nazis used concentration camps to commit genocide. To use the atrocities of the Holocaust in a debate over the proper maintenance standards of a decrepit building shows a complete lack of dignity."

"I’ve asked staff not to communicate with Mr. Ferrari or any representative of his unless and until an apology is provided by him."

"I understand, however, that there will be a need to deal with this company for compliance and property standards matters, so unfortunately, communication by some departments will still be necessary."

"In the meantime, I would encourage Mr. Ferrari to do the right thing and provide an apology for the insensitivity shown," the mayor said in his statement.

Ferrari's apology was received by the city at 3:59 p.m. today.

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David Helwig

About the Author: David Helwig

David Helwig's journalism career spans seven decades beginning in the 1960s. His work has been recognized with national and international awards.
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