Open Letter to Mayor Provenzano


Dear Mayor Provenzano:

My name is Jim Coyle and I was born and raised in our beloved City of Sault Ste. Marie.  I am a retired secondary school teacher of English and Philosophy, and I have returned to the Sault recently to enjoy my retirement in my hometown.  However, my pleasure at being back in the Sault has been short-lived since I’ve learned about Noront’s interest in building a ferrochrome smelter in the Sault.

Two of this City’s most outstanding characteristics are its natural beauty and its appeal to outdoor tourism all year round.  Tourism is the lifeblood of the Sault, and I am very worried that our immediate environment will be seriously impacted by Noront’s smelter.  From my research is clear that this smelting operation is exceedingly toxic to the air, the water and the land surrounding the smelter.  Locating the facility on a vital riverway is both short-sighted and, frankly, foolhardy, given the amount of scientific evidence regarding the carcinogenic nature of the by-products of such an operation.

I understand the economic arguments in favour of the employment opportunities the smelter will provide for an already economically depressed area.  But I believe that the long-term toll on the health of the people and the deterioration of the environment must have precedence over the relatively short-term employment advantages.  The dangers of the ferrochrome smelter itself  — in spite of the vague assurances and placations offered by Noront —  will affect peoples’ decisions to remain living in the Sault, and will certainly impact on the decisions to relocate in our city for fear of the health problems associated with ferrochrome smelting.  We will lose families and we will see our population decline further.  Indeed, when a significant number of the City’s medical community warn of the health risks of such an unwise move to have the smelter here, then attention must be paid.  The independent research is clear: ferrochrome plants are poisonous to people and to the environment.  To be sure, all safety claims aside: accidents happen.

One of the “Visions of the Four Pillars” as outlined on the FutureSSM web page is Environmental Sustainability.  The site boasts that the Sault “will be recognised as a leader in Environmental Sustainability and Alternative Energy that has a superior quality of life based on natural environment and excellent air, soil and water quality.”  Allowing Noront to develop its ferrochrome plant here will completely nullify this vision, despite the City’s commitment to “Economic Growth and Diversity.” And we must also consider our American neighbours, our indigenous peoples, and all the populations along the St. Mary’s River and surrounding the Great Lakes.  We would be responsible for the dangerous waste that inevitably enters the river and flows out to the rest of the waterways.  That is not the way I want my City to treat its neighbours.

I believe completely that allowing the Noront ferrochrome smelter to be built in Sault Ste. Marie would be an enormous mistake with very long-term consequences — more than outweighing any economic benefits.  The world is moving on from such environmentally destructive practices: why are we encouraging them?  What kind of example does the City want to set?  Live up to the city’s promise to be a leader in “Sustainability and Alternative Energy.”  Be the “great city” that FutureSSM — and City Hall — confidently and rightfully boasts about.

Please, Mayor Provenzano:  tell Noront to find another location for its smelter.


Sincerely and Respectfully,

Jim Coyle



  1. It’s not going to happen. Noront has US $47.8-million in debt, and is has only US $4.1-million in cash. They won’t be building anything anywhere.

  2. In 2003 The Algoma Public Health Unit released a study that found cancer to be the second leading cause of death in our community during the period studied from 1986 to 1999. This study attempted to ‘dumb-down’ the fact that we were 12% above the overall provincial cancer rate & it took them four years to barely mention that we were 24% above the provincial average for respiratory & lung cancers.

    A 2017 report stated that there were since 7,534 newly diagnosed cases of cancer & even though Algoma Public Health could find ‘no apparent reason’ why our cancer rates were drastically higher then any other place on the planet. A very simple search of & thank-you, to Sault Online for showing us that. “directly correlates lung cancer with causes such as aluminum production, arsenic and inorganic arsenic compounds which are most often associated with mining, asbestos, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, coke production for steel industry, hematite mining, iron or steel founding & nickel.”

    I’m sure that neither of these reports or any other proposed ‘studies’ for that matter, if not for provincial & federal regulations.. will find their way out of Algoma Public Health, Noront or City Hall in any clear & concise manner indicating, that we may yet. Easily surpass even the National Average cancer rate by up to 40 or even 46% once we start adding exposures to cadmium, chromium & ferrochrome.

    If our Mayor & City Council Members prove to be half as competent at ferrochrome research, as they are with bus stops & window replacements. Then I highly suggest we start making funeral arrangements now.. just sayin’.

    Strange daze indeed..

  3. I’ll try to comment…but 2 of last 3 have been removed, so I guess this is the new sootoday.

    Personally, I see more stainless steel around, not less, so not sure how the world is moving away from such environmentally destructive practices. But don’t let the truth get in the way of your story…

    Currently all stainless steel is being imported from overseas because they’re no smelters in North America. Our smelter would provide stainless steel to the US market and would be needed for decades to come…Having the smelter here should encourage other factories to open in our area as they can get their raw material locally.

    Erase away

  4. “The world is moving on from such environmentally destructive practices: Why are we encouraging them?”

    The world isn’t moving on from stainless steel. Nice try

  5. Oh Selva, the Ferrochrome group is such a joke. I know I got booted from it because of the truths I spoke of you. You talked more about Essar/Algoma than of the Ferrochrome plant.
    You’re a joke!!

  6. Being a retired teacher is irrelevant and doesn’t make his opinion any more valid.
    Especially so being a retired english & philosophy teacher.

  7. so…..just to summarize…100 year old Steel Plant Good…ferrochrome bad….say all the people with stainless steel appliances…etc…

  8. “Please, Mayor Provenzano: tell Noront to find another location for its smelter.” Whaaaaat?
    Another crybaby NIMBY.

  9. Noront might be Provenzano’s lasting legacy. He obviously doesn’t care much ’bout the tourism industry as evidenced by the removal of the museum ship Norgoma. Maybe he knew about this before hand? Just trying to figure it all out. Confusing.

  10. Noront might be Provenzano’s lasting legacy. He obviously doesn’t care much ’bout the tourism industry as evidenced by the removal of the museum ship Norgoma. Maybe he knew about this before we did? Might make sense then. Just trying to connect the dots. Confusing.

    • Provenzano may be happy to have Noront his legacy. He might be getting tired of the “Opioid crisis? What opioid crisis?” legacy.

  11. My son and his family wanted to come here to retire in 6 years… it is a wait and see attitude. I have lived here all of my 68 years and never considered leaving but i my have to. I am in Steelton area , is my property going to be worthless? I am demonstrating against the plant coming because i see children passing my home daily on tbeir school bus . Their little faces looking out at the world that I am responsible for. I have to protect them.

  12. Thank you, Mr. Coyle, I totally agree with you.
    It’s ironic; you came back to enjoy everything good about Sault Ste. Marie and upon your return, City Council are trying to destroy the positives you seek. I used to pray my children and grandchildren stayed in SSM, but now I’m having second thoughts. Never would I have thought I could say that. My prayers are now focused on NOT having this cancer smelter in our city. I’ve seen enough suffering by my family and friends. Let’s not make it worse, PLEASE.

    • @JayCee – why would you possibly pray for your children & grandchildren to stay in a dead end city full of ‘big fish in a small pond’?
      I hope my kids will spread their wings & move out of this city to bigger & better things never moving or looking back.
      Stale or weak economy. Lacklustre healthcare. Mediocre to non-existant programs. Often unemployment to underemployment. Crime worsening and consistently among the worst 100 cities. Drugs and among the highest overdose rate in the country. Extremely limited things for kids to do (a few things, but often ‘one-and-done’ things. Lacklustre and mediocre festivals. Etc etc.
      I’m in the long process of leaving thankfully

      • If everyone leaves how does it get better? Whose responsibility is it to make the city better? Obviously not yours. But not mine. Not that guys… Can’t imagine how this city fell into such disrepair.

    • @Freddy Otoole – Not a bad attitude and you are entitled to your opinion. As long as things are done in a respectful way by not directly insulting people but instead properly debating the issues (you will have to eventually “argue” constructively). Good Luck and it is a responsible thing to do. However, I still believe there is more than enough science as well health and environmental impacts that come before economics.

    • Selva Rasaiah I truly feel this plant will be built in a safe manner with the best available technology. I here so much negitive talk, sure the risk is possible but i dont feel that it will be death and contamination. This isnt going to be thrown together overnight, lots of planning and safeguards will be in place. Have a nice day Selva.

      • @freddy – I understand noront is promising a state of the art and thoroughly safe & clean facility is being built however history shows what is promised is rarely what comes to fruition and sustained.
        Once profits and bottom line are at risk, cost cutting measures will take over and that is when things happen.
        Even with the best methodology all it takes is a slight human error, and with the high toxicity of this plant the consequences are lethal and long lasting.
        The path to hell is paved with the best intentions.

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