SaultOnline.com / ONNtv received the following statement from the Board of Directors of the MS Norgoma.
The Board of Directors of the MS Norgoma is saddened to report to you a number of misguided actions by the Corporation of the City of Sault Ste. Marie.
On Wednesday, 22 May 2019, the Board of Directors approached a local locksmith to replace the deadbolt on the MS Norgoma for security purposes and was made aware that they had just drilled out the lock and replaced it on orders from Rick Borean, Supervisor of Community Services in the Department of Recreation and Culture. Mr. Borean also instructed this locksmith to contact all other locksmiths in the city to inform them they were not to touch the locks on the MS Norgoma. The City unlawfully locked the Board of Directors out of their property (the MS Norgoma) and kept them from accessing the thousands of artifacts that the Board owns. Following this, members of the Board regained their rightful access to the MS Norgoma and replaced the lock placed on it by the City.
On Thursday, 23 May 2019, a volunteer was on board the MS Norgoma aiding in the cataloguing of artifacts when the City contacted the Sault Ste. Marie Police Service claiming a break in, and tried to break the door open. The volunteer was startled but not injured. The City claimed they had reconvened the vessel, without any member of the Board of Directors having received proof. The City then provided a copy of correspondence sent to the St. Mary’s River Marine Heritage Center’s lawyer, who was in court at the time and unable to receive or respond to the correspondence. This letter was also dated 23 May 2019, after they had already broken and entered into the ship and left it in a hazardous state the day prior.
The Sault Ste. Marie Police Services forced the Board to give them access to the ship and then allowed everyone except the Board members entry into the vessel. Sergeant R. Chabot determined it was necessary to sweep the ship to ensure there was no one left inside, taking an artifact key from a Board member, which he provided to an employee of the City, and the City then refused to return, even though the key was an artifact and therefore the property of the Board. The entire debacle was organized and supported by Deputy CAO, Community Development & Enterprise Services Tom Vair, Director, Community Services Brent Lamming, and Manager, Recreation and Culture Virginia McLeod, as well as Mr. Borean. Numerous City workers were also in attendance. The City drilled out the lock the Board of Directors had placed on the ship on 22 May 2019 and informed present members of the Board that they would be halting any access to the ship. The SSMPS made the Board aware that anyone caught on or near the ship would be charged with trespassing.
The Board of Directors of the MS Norgoma condemns the actions of the City of Sault Ste. Marie, and will be pursuing the necessary channels to prove legal ownership of the vessel and regain access to it.
We would like the public to rest assured that we will do everything in our power to continue to preserve the history of the Sault and surrounding area that the MS Norgoma represents, and share it with the community and its visitors. We are very thankful to everyone who has continued to support us during this long and unnecessary battle to protect and preserve our heritage.