While scrolling through my Facebook feed last night, I came across a list of things the Bondar marina would be missing out on by removing the M.S Norgoma, and I have to say I am very impressed with what this new and energetic board is doing in an attempt to revitalize this space. Here are the following initiatives this board has come up with, as per their Facebook page:
1. Community partnerships to develop gardens on the Norgoma to assist in providing local food to local customers
2. Pay what you can Night Markets, providing fresh food to those struggling to acquire fresh, healthy food.
3. Open Mic Night’s providing space for local youth and emerging artists to showcase their talents.
4. Partnership with the Navy League and Sea Cadets to do restoration, training, drills, and events on board the Norgoma, providing a space for youth who are interested in Marine activities an actual ship to train aboard, and a venue for their 100th anniversary including an exhibit and ongoing exhibit development.
5. Fundraisers and events showcasing local small businesses and emerging artists providing space for them to showcase their wares and talents. As well as vendor space for local small businesses and artists to sell their wares and work.
6. Employment for youth within the Heritage Sector. Last year the Norgoma employed 11 students and partnered with March of Dimes and Community Living Algoma to provide employment for youth struggling to enter the workforce.
7. A local connection to Marine History and Heritage. The Bondar Marina is part of the North Shore Marina Tourism Council, which is mandated to bring tourism to the marina, which would suffer with the lack of a tourism attraction. Sault Ste Marie and communities along the North Shore benefited and were established thanks to the Norgoma and her sister ships. Loosing this is an oversight on 3 slip spaces for boaters who are not coming to Sault Ste Marie, especially considering our History has been burning down lately.
8. A local attraction situated beside docking Cruise Ships, willing and wanting to work to welcome them to our City. There has never been any discussion with the Norgoma to provide this service even though we have been willing and eager to do so.
9. Festivals and Events. The Norgoma had a list of events and festivals in the works, including those welcoming Newcomers and Immigrants to Sault Ste Marie, Arts, Culture, Film, Music, and many more.
10. A unique and interesting attraction that draws in Marine enthusiasts. During off season we have had 15 requests for tours of the Norgoma. The Norgoma is also only growing and is refreshing exhibits, cabins, and restoring the ship to its original condition.
11. A local film destination. We have signed a contract to allow for a feature film to be filming aboard the Norgoma. We are also listed as a scout able location on Ontario’s film location website, working with FutureSSM Film Coordinator.
12. A young, driven, productive, award winning team of new young board members, volunteers, and management who have turned the ship around in the past year. This is turning away young people from trying to stand up and make a difference.
I understand the ship has been stagnant for a number of years prior to this new board coming into play, but why aren’t we giving them a chance? I can see all of these ideas adding a lot of value to the Norgoma as well as the Bondar Pavilion area in general. Ask most young adults what one of our main challenges as a city is and they would likely tell you there is a general lack of things to do. In fact, one of the main focuses in the recent municipal election was youth outmigration, and we had most candidates acknowledge that adding to our culture would be a good way to address this. So again, why not embrace these ideas? I mean, an open mic on a boat? How many cities can boast that as an attraction? Also what message are we sending to younger people with ambitious ideas if we just turn away this group and their ideas without giving them a solid chance?
I would also like to add that as a city, I think we need to embrace our history a little bit more. I’ve been looking back into the history of Sault Ste Marie, and we actually have a rich and interesting story to tell. It would be a shame to see another piece of that story disappear.
Although I am not a member of the board, I will be contacting the city councilors in my ward to show my support for this group and their ideas. I encourage all who may be interested in supporting these ideas to do the same. When the most recent municipal election was over, we did see a significant change in city council, so maybe we can influence change when it comes to the fate of the M.S Norgoma as well.
– Mike McCLeary