Norgoma's future remains uncertain, 'Over 15 years we've been dealing with this issue'
Published Monday, October 23, 2017 10:19AM EDT
Sault Ste. Marie city council has been debating the future of the M.S. Norgoma for years and some local representatives feel it is time to come up with a plan for the last passenger vessel to sail the St. Mary's river.
"Over 15 years that we've been dealing with this issue at council," said Matthew Shoemaker, city councillor.
"Are we going to extend funding? Are we going to continue to have it in the Bondar Marina? I think it's time that we make a decision."
Shoemaker said the Sault's waterfront makes the city unique, and he believes the museum ship is hurting that image.
"We market our natural beauty and we've got a ship that has paint chips falling off that is need of serious repair. Unfortunately, the reviews on Trip Advisor are not great on it. I think its a detractor from our city's waterfront," he said.
Councillor Susan Myers, a former director of tourism in the city, wants the ship to remain where it's been for nearly 40 years.
She acknowledges its current state is not acceptable but she believes the Norgoma is an important part of the city's past.
"We are a water front city," said Myers.
"It would be awesome to have a facility right on our waterfront that we can go to, to tell a bit of our story as well as something we can partake in and enjoy. That's why, for me, the vision of a museum ship waterfront restaurant would be great, but it's going to take investment. Is that investment less than the investment of, perhaps, hundreds of thousands of dollars to remove it and have nothing left?"
Myers said visitor numbers are up from the previous two seasons at the Norgoma; as 3700 people have toured the ship this year.
Councillor Shoemaker expects city staff to have a report ready late this year or early next which will outline how much it will cost to remove or keep the Norgoma, along with the benefits and detriments of both options.