Bon Soo responds to “dumpster flap”


A member from the board of directors responded to a slew of negative comments following a story and photo posted on facebook showing the new home of the polar bear swim.

Sonny Spina, a Bon Soo Winter Carnival board of director told that the photo circulating online shows the venue only 25 percent complete. The photo showed a wooden stairs and platform built over a commercial dumpster.

Spina talked with’s Treena Clement Friday afternoon on camera. Spina explained how the committee arrived at their new plan for the polar bear swim. He explained that the recent changes in weather prompted the committee to come up with a plan to hold the polar bear swim regardless of the weather conditions. The weather has always played a huge part of the swim, from ice thickness to rain showers some years. This led to the crowd sometimes being held back at the shoreline and not around the hole on the ice.

The new venue at the Machine Shop, the new home of the key events for the carnival will allow spectators a chance to view the swim with cameras both inside and outside the tank being streamed to a large screen inside the Machine Shop.

The Ontario Winter Carnival Bon Soo kicks off February 3rd at the Machine Shop.

Watch the video for where the idea of a dumpster came from and what is really planned for the event.

Photo by Ken McDonald
Photo by Ken McDonald


  1. So maybe we all “might” be over reacting a bit with this so called “dumpster dive” a.k.a “polar bear swim!!!
    BUT, where is a MANY Many year tradition that says “the residents of SSM dove into dumpsters to portray polar bears” during their annual Bon Soo Event????
    IF anything, WHY this Mill place? WHY not keep that event at The park where it belongs, have a LOCAL resident(s) create some sort of wooden box that is say maybe 5 or so feet deep, 12 feet long maybe, and we will say 10 feet wide maybe, put it near the shore line in a safe area of the park…..pack some snow around it and fill it with freezing water from the river through a pump??????
    That way this box could be used in the park as maybe a nice flower pot or something like that in the spring and summer???
    Just a thought??
    The fact that the committee is breaking traditions is sad, I’m glad I don’t live there anymore to watch the many disgraces the city is doing to the residents of that community!

  2. What a fantastic idea….next we can have these dumpsters set up durring the summer just like New York. Now you can close down the public pools….think of the money that could be saved.
    I think we’ll pass on Bin Soo this year.

  3. I think people need to calm down and give it a chance ….if it gets completely surrounded with a snow mountain it may not be so bad. I think we should be grateful we get to still have it….I would rather have something than nothing …..and if anyone remembers you could not see a thing from the bank. Just saying at least give it a try before you decide to boycott.

  4. The reason you are out of touch is that you made BON SOO a one business commercial … it was held at the CITY Park which our tax payers money is used .. just like BON SOO is supported by our TAX PAYER money also .. you can also but a garbage container there too ( don’t agree with the container )… you can think outside the box and have snowshoes run or dog sled races there etc.. lets use city money wisely … and I am not going because of your statements … how owns the Machine shop seem to have lot of pull with the city …

    • I’m NOT in agreement with this at all, or the way that Bon Soo is going downhill, but just to clarify….Bon Soo is not funded by the City or the taxpayers. This is totally on the Bon Soo Board and Staff, and their way of spending sponsorships from businesses in town. What a waste.

  5. The weather is not justification to localize a city wide festival to a private commercial property. Bon Soo is a city wide event to be scheduled on public properties. It is not to become an attempt to generate private sector revenues by strategically re-locating events from a non profit festival. It is also being marketed as renown northern tourism attraction and should properly keep to its origins.

  6. As a former Saultite now living in London..this breaks my heart. One of the things I missed about home was this winter carnival. Seems it’s turned into a joke. If the water is unsafe..may I suggest 2 things. 1. Clean up the water. Nature will thank you for it. 2. Cancel the event. I am sure the general consensus is people would rather see it cancelled than jump into a trash bin. Whether you deem it clean or’s the visual. It’s just not what the event is about. Just the opinion of an ex-Saultite..

  7. If Spina is so excited let him jump in the dumpster! Just because he can talk fast and the reporter not even get a question in does this make a great interview.
    Would rather it be at Bellevue park with cameras and live feed to the Machine Shop than in the parking lot dumpster.
    Ruining a great Bon Soo tradition! Agree with about comments this is embarrassing and a joke!

  8. Is Sonny going to be the first one to jump into the contaminated bio hazard garbage container? This is going to Make Bon Soo the laughing stock of Ontario. “Hey look at SSM they have water every where you turn for their Polar Bear Swim but they are jumping into a festering garbage can.”
    Pathetic, move this event to Bellevue Park where it belongs.

  9. What a joke! First of all, I think that Mr. Spina is forgetting that the thing that made and makes the Bon Soo Winter Carnival such a success, is that it is based upon using the fantastic natural resources that have always made Sault Ste. Marie such a wonderful place to live. The Sault is the place known for hosting such a fantastic and successful winter carnival. This “Dumpster Diving” event you describe is embarrassing, a plan devised, no doubt as a marketing scheme to make more money for the Machine Shop owners. Mr. Spina, you brought up the garbage bins used in New York City during heat waves, as an example to us of why we should also accept this. Mr. Spina, the people of Sault Ste. Marie that have chosen to live here, have done so because of all our area has to offer us. The natural resources and beauty we find right outside our doors. Many of us could have chosen to live in large cities such as Toronto and made a lot more money, had many more cultural events to choose from on virtually any given day, But NO!!! We chose to live here because we didn’t want to live in a large city and we wanted to raise our children within our beautiful city and all it has to offer. As long as I have lived here, and it is more years than I care to admit, I have always enjoyed our Bon Soo Winter Carnival. The highlight of this event, for me anyway, is The Polar Bear Swim.
    If you go ahead with this, I for one will not be in attendance.

  10. I would have expected the “committee” to note all the negative comments and rethink this silly idea.
    I never heard of any problems on the shoreline of the river over the many years that venue was used.
    This sounds like a promotion for THE MILL rather than a well thought out plan for families .

  11. OMG! If Sonny Spina mentions New York heatwave dumpster diving as an inspiration for this one more time, I will lose it. Be as defensive as you can be, the fact remains that this is a horrible idea and a sad day for Bon Soo. After seeing this video I’m now thinking ‘your generous camera sponsors” came up with this dumpster idea. Now I’m sure someone will throw their back into this last minute and make it look fantastic, but only because they were called out on it.

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