Sign Me Up to Take It Down


Signs, Signs, everywhere there’s signs… know the song right ? Well anyway, it’s time to set the record straight in my opinion. I agree that signs are necessary ; I would be an idiot, let’s face it. But there comes a time when common sense should prevail and determine when, where, and “if” a sign should be erected…..C’mon, we’ve all seen the “caution, coffee may be hot”, “toys are not for human consumption” or my personal favorite “Don’t climb the fence or feed animals as this could cause injury or death” but people still don’t respect. them. I respect most signs in life, most are there for our protection but signs telling me coffee is hot or loud music at a concert is not good for your hearing is common sense. Educate the masses in a campaign and quit wasting the ink on the ticket stubs or coffee cups…It all adds up. Do you think McDonald’s doesn’t figure in their ink and advertising into the price of you sweet cup of Joe ?

Now to one of my frustrations over the years ! Porter the Train, who remembers Porter? If you don’t google, Porter. SSM, Kids and Fun, Fence, and Embarrassment. In a nutshell, back in 2006 the city got the big idea of preventing kids from having fun and get exercise. In 1943 an engine was built for the steel mill and it was put to rest in about 1967 and landed at Bellevue Park. Kid for years and years would like it as it was painted really cool. It had soft edges, handles to pull up on and you could sit at the top. I remember playing on that train dozens of tires.

Anyway in case you didn’t know, back in about 2006, the great powers that be, decided through some cost saving studies, that the beautiful toy should be fenced off so the kids couldn’t climb it and get exercise. It was was first said to be a safety issue and after some local public cry, they changed their tune to a “liability” issue through their legal department..I guess (in my opinion) the deal was already signed and done. After the outcry, they had to get their legal team to say that the Insurance company the city uses and may have a lengthy contract and friendship with, wouldn’t cover it as the premiums would be too expensive. You see, people, There are two scare tactics the administrations, corporations, governments use………higher cost to the taxpayer and liability. My first thought was to shop around for a different insurer but the city had it’s minds made up . This moral in this case is that ……A sign WOULD have been appropriate in this instance. “Climb at Own Risk, Must Be 12 Years OLD”…Something of that nature. We are now trying to bring back kids to Bellevue Park with the Splash Pad initiative and it boggles my mind. We had fun at the park before they started removing things. Who else remembers playing in those boats near the water before they were removed?I If there is a safety issue, repair it !!..put up a sign and let the damn kids play !…Too buck red tape and old school thinking.

The second bone of contention I can’t let go of is the issue where the City capped off the water fountain at Goulais and Second Line.

Last October city council decided to cap the water fountain that had been used by residents for many many years. My research has shown that the reason was about “libility”. My problem is that for a slip and fall every once in a while, do we shut down sidewalks?, streets? driveways? Let’s be realistic people, since I don’t know all the circumstances behind the the lady that fell, I do know that it was three days before Christmas and we all know when water flows and the temperature is right, it creates ice. If that were to have been me, I would have accepted responsibility and lived with the consequences and knew for next time . Now, here is where the problem starts, the lawyers and city officials got involved and instead of settling out or courts as would only be fair, as this woman and thousands of locals have drank this water for free for years; that should have been the end of it. But it wasn’t they decided to do the easy thing, Cap IT !!!…………… got it !!!…..the city insurance provider would not insure it. It was easier to disregard the public and cap it ! I know many city officials and most do a great job, but there is an element of “We Know BEST!!.Where are the referendums or public votes on serious matters like this ? One man calls a motion, a second persons seconds it and that’s the process.

The city officials truly have a lot on their plates; they have families, and other jobs on top of their responsibilities with the city. I just think there should be more independent thought put into the votes……The late Frank Manzo (rip) would somebody who would roar and make it know that common sense needs to prevail. I haven’t researched his voting, but my hunch is he would have voted against Fencing Porter and I believe he was ill during the time the vote for capping the well came to fruition. Anyway, we need stronger people to help us not forget common sense and keep the litigators from destroying our common fabric………

My vote would have been PUT UP A SIGN “Use at Your Own Risk/Step May Be Slippery”

The above are just two cases where locally, we should have let things be left alone and put a a sign. Problem solved !!!

Now, here we go !! and outside of a small minority of people, I think most of you will agree that this SIGN SHOULD COME DOWN Essar came here about 2007;everyone was excited, they have a large company and are known for making profits throughout the world. We were saved.! They were talking about building this and building that. We were euphoric. Things started off slowly and things were good for the most part. The guys did not have to worry about getting paid and the city was making money through a strong local economy and taxes…(SO We Thought !) In a nutshell their have been pension issues, work shortage, strike votes, arbitration and from what I hear from workers on the inside, the moral has been low for some time. Going into bankruptcy protection while asking the court appointed judge to let you give retention bonuses to 23 executives to the tune of $3.5 Million dollars is sickening….In case you are not aware, they are currently trying to cut employees hourly rates and remove some concessions that were already in the previous contracts. Don’t get me wrong but when times are toughs, we work together.

If I was employed by an honest employer and he was failing to go down because of the the world economy, I would take a small pay cut…..I know many of you would….The difference to me is that this Essar plays this game all over the world. They buy up a company, ship off the profits to another company they own and where it can’t be touched. The books show they are not financially stable and they cry wolf…..We get scared and agree for them to acquire bankruptcy protection.

Here the the crux of my article……Essar Global owes us $ 21 000 000. We should be ashamed to keep that sign up!! ..City and local taxes by large corporations should be the first ones paid. A similar instance happened a few years ago and the Gov of Minnesota gave Essar a deadline to pay $66 000 000 it had owed the state and contractors. Before the deadline passed, Essar was already making payments….This tough language needs to be adapted for all business that wants to produce here. Anyway, I know removing the sign won’t happen because they probably paid that already, lol, but I still wish there was a way to shame them. Maybe the next big company that using our arena for naming rights will have written into the contract that any missed payments to any local employers will result in the sign coming down at their own cost.

Local Contractors, maybe it’s time to build a “Sault Ste. Marie Community and Events Centre” sign as a backup !

Thank you

Ernest Skinner Jr.

Ernest Skinner
Ernest Skinner was born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie and attended Humber College after high school. He has a passion for other cultures and has traveled throughout Mexico and many South American countries.. He has written many articles over the years that deal with events happening here in Sault Ste. Marie. Reading about ancient civilizations, world politics, and mysteries of the unknown are also defining factors that are his general makeup. Outside of being serious, he has a bright sense of humor that was molded from shows like Seinfeld to The Simpsons. Ernest is a columnist


  1. Back in 2008 we had a petition signed by 9871 citizens in 50 days of gathering signatures on a paper petition (NOT an online one) that would have seen our downtown hockey complex have the current name ESSAR SAULT MEMORIAL GARDENS, and the next name be PEPSI SAULT MEMORIAL GARDENS if Pepsi buys the naming rights.

    The 2008 City Council disagreed with keeping SAULT MEMORIAL GARDENS as a permanent portion of the name, and selling the title sponsorship to the highest bidder even in the face of almost 10,000 signatures. Strangely, they were about the only 13 people in the city who disagreed. I guess they had already made up their minds.

    In any case, and to your point about taking the ESSAR name down Ernest, had city council done what we 9,871 citizens wanted them to do, AND had they negotiated naming rights deals with ESSAR that they would immediately lose their naming rights privileges in the case that their taxes were not paid our downtown hockey complex would have the name SAULT MEMORIAL GARDENS today, and the naming rights could be up for grabs to the next corporate citizen.

    The 2008 City Council let us down, and quite obviously the legal department let us down because the ESSAR name is still on our downtown hockey arena and in the Northern Community Centre Library even though ESSARs taxes have been in arrears for several years now.

    Oh well, tax evaders have rights I guess, and the naming rights for our downtown hockey complex are up for grabs again in 2018.

    Maybe this City Council will see fit to listen to the 9871 citizens of 2008 and make SAULT MEMORIAL GARDENS a permanent PORTION of our premier downtown arena, AND perhaps they will connect the Memorial Tower to the arena with a symbolic bridge called the James L McIntyre Bridge that symbolizes the non-stop efforts of Mayor James L McIntyre to build a bridge from Sault Ste. Marie’s past to our future.

    Thanks for the article Ernest.


  2. Essar is crooked…plain and simple. If a person did what they do they’d be charged for multiple offences and their name would be drug through the mud in every news forum possible…But because they’re a multi-national company with millions of dollars hidden away in a deep, dark cave…They get a free pass, not only legally, but judges actually taking their side when they’re clearly the ones in the wrong. They’ve been making money since they bought the mill and only cry wolf to get more money, which they get, only to siphon and hide away…What happened in Minnesota will never happen here…Politicians in the states actually have backbones, ours don’t. If they don’t like paying the wages in Canada, they shouldn’t have bought a steel mill in Canada. So many examples of their crooked dealings yet we proudly display their disgraceful name on our local arena and collectively hang our heads as we enter…Tony Martin warned everyone that Essar has a bad reputation worldwide, but we didn’t listen. Guess he was right (RIP)

  3. I apologize to you all in advance, regarding the grammar and spelling. My Drafts app wasn’t working right and after I had edited or corrected something, it came back without me knowing….I hope you enjoyed the read !

  4. I believe it’s more like $25,000,000 that they owe the city in back taxes, besides the additional millions to many suppliers and contractors, some that are already out of business, thanks to them.
    As far as the naming rights to the arena (the only thing that they have actually paid for up front) they expire soon, when this happens it should automatically revert back to the historical “Memorial Gardens”
    They claim to be a good and caring corporate citizen but their track record shows quite the opposite.
    They have all but killed this city and if given the chance they will finish it off.
    It will be interesting to hear what has transpired so far with the soon to retire crooked judge that is imprisoning our union members in Toronto trying to force them to agree to a deal that would screw them and our pensioners over. Essar already owes the pension fund half a billion dollars that it will never see.

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