Opinion: Stop Complaining and Do Something


For those of you that haven’t read Lonely Planet’s article on Sault Ste Marie, it is below. Read it and you be the judge. Is the Sault some place that you would say, “there is the place I want to spend my holiday?”

For years I have been approaching people in the so called right places with ideas that might make our city more appealing and magnetizing to visit and for years, nothing has been done. I have spoken to manager after manager of the Downtown Association and the downtown still appears dreary and like a ghost town, yes a ghost town. During the last election I interviewed almost all the candidates and all of them agreed that something had to be done. My suggestion of making it like the city of Stratford, with music, art, buskers, and the like has fallen on deaf ears.
Reggie and Christine Daigle have the right idea. They threw the most successful and entertaining party ever held on Queen St. in June people packed that section of Queen St. to help Reggie celebrate his anniversary and if you ask him, that is what he envisions for all of Queen St. Stratford has millions of tourists visit it every year, why not Sault Ste. Marie. The only time the Sault rocks with people is during our annual Rotaryfest and now it’s time to make the downtown rock, year round.

Lonely Planet gave it’s honest opinion and now it’s time for us to take it on the chin and do something about it.
“Introducing Sault Ste Marie
‘The Soo,’ as it’s commonly known, quietly governs the narrow rapids between Lakes Huron and Superior. Perched along the last ‘steps’ of the St Lawrence Seaway, this sleepy city is the unofficial gateway to the far-flung regions of northwestern Ontario. Originally known as Baawitigong (‘Place of the rapids’) it was a traditional gathering place for the Ojibwe and remains a strong First Nations’ area today. French fur traders changed the name to Sault Ste-Marie (soo-saynt muh-ree) or ‘St Mary’s Falls,’ but don’t expect to see any today: they’ve been tamed into a series of gargantuan locks.
Let’s face it, Sault Ste-Marie is not the prettiest town. In many parts, it’s dreary. Downtown feels like a ghost town and can be sketchy after dark. Despite appearances, the Soo may be the friendliest place in Ontari-oo (sic) and it’s a logical overnight on Trans-Canada itineraries. There’s a US border crossing here too.”


  1. When I was a teenager, Queen Street and the downtown area used to rock! We had great stores .. Woolco, Friedmans, Davis’, Vavalla’s restaurant, Time Out, The Mountain Man, just to name a few! I even remember ‘Jupiter Store’ when I was young, another fave! Downtown was our favorite spot to hang out!! We were all friends and used to ‘cruise Queen’ over and over, and tons of us in cars would hang out in the Memorial Gardens parking lot! LOL
    I hit bar age and Queen St used to be happening every night of the week! Great local and out of town Rock bands used to be great entertainment when we hung out at the Royal Hotel and the Eastgate and even The Vic! We had Mary’s lunch on Queen St that was open very late to serve the bar rush, and also the Sub Shop was on Queen St, another hot spot after the bar! I remember Grandma Lee’s restaurant on Queen too .. we used to go have coffee and one of her famous huge cookies in the morning! The Adanac was another famous place that was hopping as the Greyhound Bus Terminal was attached to it. Those were the greatest days of my life! Now? What a joke!

  2. This is such a huge conversation, there are so many issues to look at.

    What bothers me most is that we live in a town where people are literally *forced* to travel through the city core because of our border crossing. hwy 17 runs RIGHT THROUGH us, there is no way to bypass our city and get to the bridge. And let’s face it, take a drive into town on hwy 17 via any direction, and look around, wipe your mind clean and pretend you are a tourist who has never been here before. Unfortunately you will see dreary.

    If you don’t believe me go do it.

    Go to any Welcome to SSM entrance sign (even on the bridge) and drive into the Soo. Only find your way using the signage provided in our city. You don’t know directions or street names. And have a look around.

    RE: downtown. Well. Hmmm. Ya, that’s a problem. Biggest problem IMO for business owners there, no parking, in today’s world if you make it inconvenient for me in any way (looking for parking, PAYING for parking pfffft) to shop at your place of business, I won’t. I have way too many other options.
    I know those boulevards on Queen are pretty and all, but I’d rather see parked cars with patrons shopping and activity and….people. It’s all optics people!

    Speaking of optics, Gore St. should be funky. It just screams to be funky. I love the flower bomb initiatives, but it is a graffiti laden, poster-ed, flyer-ed, no parking expanse of dreary still, but with pretty flowers getting lost in it all.

    I’d recommend a paint bomb effort. EVERY building along Gore from Queen to Wellington should be painted a different bright primary colour.

    Any debilitated buildings still standing (and there are a couple) should be acquired by the city to knock em down for parking/outdoor event space.

    Google: St John’s NFLD house images

    Seriously google it.

    Wouldn’t that look amazing? This idea would completely change and revitalize that small section of street. It’s a psychological thing too. And paint is not expensive.

    If only our waterfront was actually swim-able like…in North Bay for example. They have it made with their waterfront, not just pretty but you can jump in the water for a swim!

    It would be like us walking down to Bellevue park and going for a swim with the family. Wouldn’t that be great? Ha, I’ve always wondered, how tourists know NOT to jump in the water at our waterfront? lol. I dunno…build a big damn salt water infinity pool right in the river at some point along the waterfront. Make it swim-able dammit!

    And I must say the graffiti in this town has gotten seriously out of control. When you are pretending you are a tourist looking around the city, what do you think of all that graffiti visual noise?

    IT IS EVERY WHERE. ON EVERY THING. It looks trashy. I’m embarrassed by how bad it is actually.

    Let’s give relentless taggers ‘Senor’ and ‘Goon’ (latest 3 D effort on all the cement columns of the underpass at Carmen’s way) a bursary to go to college and study graphic design for gawd sakes in exchange for them to stop tagging EVERYTHING, you are the reason why we can’t have nice things. lol.

    So Linda Lee for mayor?? What do you say folks??

  3. Good idea but so far the people in charge want to cater to themselves instead of visitors. For some reason this city doesn’t understand the value of a tourist $$$ …. look at the many comments about shutting down the passenger train or scraping the Norgoma. We need an honest investor to create a Gateway site or other attraction to bring and keep people. The idea of the Arts is great but one thing you have to remember is that we are much more isolated than Stratford. Travel costs are greater for artists to come here and work with our artists than any place in S Ontario. Plus for a tourist to travel here they need a reason for a multi day stay. We need a few more MAJOR attractions to pull people in then keep them. That’s why the Gateway site would have been perfect.

Comments are closed.