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Fate decided: Norgoma will be ripped apart by Purvis cutting torches

Sault will waive up to $8K in landfill fees to allow Purvis Marine to dispose of non-ferrous materials including wood, roofing materials, asbestos, oil, lubricants and paint
Norgoma historic image
The MS Norgoma. Photo provided

Sault Ste. Marie's city council has decided to pay Purvis Marine $395,000 to break the 188-foot M.S. Norgoma into scrap metal.

The Dec. 18 decision settles months of squabbling between those determined to save the rusting former package freighter/passenger ferry/museum ship and those who believe it's a costly blight on the Sault waterfront.

"The Norgoma decision that we've got before us today will lead to questions of what could have been, had the ship received the type of funding it ought to have received all these years, had we just tried this tact instead of that one," said Mayor Matthew Shoemaker.

"I think the questions of what ought to have been are misplaced," the mayor said.

"We got the Norgoma for a dollar in roughly 1975 and have had the debate ever since of whether or not it was proper for our waterfront.

"I hold the view... that it was not a proper use of municipal resources to invest in its viability all those years.

"We are at this point in our decision-making because of a decision that probably ought never to have been made in the first place," Shoemaker said.

Tom Vair, the city's deputy chief administrative officer for community development and enterprise services, said city staff have worked hard to try to find another home for the Norgoma.

"The city has signed two agreements for purchase and sale for the Norgoma," Vair said.

"Neither of those groups were able to consummate the deal. We've probably talked with 10 different groups over the last few years trying to find another solution.

"Ultimately, the cost of relocation, the cost to refurbish, the cost to dock, and now the looming cost that other municipalities have asked to have money in escrow in case it didn't work out so they can't dismantle the boat, has made it not feasible for anyone else," Vair told the meeting.

"From the city's perspective, we're spending money on insurance and we're spending money on docking fees so it is getting expensive.

"That bill has been adding up. It really came down to trying to find a viable solution.

"Unfortunately, the best solution is decommissioning the vessel. We were able to get a quote from a local firm, which was much less than we received from an out-of-town firm," Vair said.

"I don't think anyone around this table originally would have wanted to see the Norgoma be decommissioned, but I think we're at a state where that is our best option," said Ward 3 Coun. Angela Caputo.

At Purvis's request, the city will waive $5,000 to $8,000 in landfill fees associated with disposal of non-ferrous materials including wood, roofing materials, asbestos, oil, lubricants and paint.

Purvis must now move the boat as soon as possible from its current $40-a-day berth at Algoma Steel to a ship-breaking location.

— SooToday