The ownership group of the Machine Shop strongly disagrees with the proposed relocation of the downtown bus terminal at 111 Huron Street.
On January 12th, a letter was sent to Mr. Tom Vair, Deputy CAO along with Mayor Provenzano and City Council stating the concerns regarding the bus terminal relocation prior to the first information session. This letter was highly disregarded.
The Machine Shop ownership has significantly invested in developing a premier destination attraction on the adjacent property to the proposed bus terminal at 87 Huron Street. Beyond the investment made at the Machine Shop, the project has combined provincial and private sector support of over $10 million. This tourism development will position Sault Ste. Marie as one of the top Northern Ontario tourism destination attractions. The City of Sault Ste. Marie wants to make the community a highly attractive tourism destination, but this proposed relocation is a serious concern that will limit our vision moving forward.
The new tourism destination will house a nationally recognized Destination Canada Signature Experience, the Agawa Canyon Tour Train. Moving the bus terminal adjacent to this attraction on Huron Street does not enhance, complement, or improve this investment. This is poor planning on the City’s behalf and The Machine Shop is opposed to the relocation of the bus depot to this area that is now transforming Sault Ste. Marie’s tourism landscape.
The continuous air and noise pollution from the current facility, compounded with additional idling of buses and vehicles in a larger bus terminal facility will greatly affect the visitor experience in Sault Ste. Marie. There are also safety concerns for increased bus traffic along Huron Street for citizens and tourists using the Hub Trail and for SSM residents and guests using our parking lot. When there are multiple uses of the Machine Shop for events like weddings or concerts, this increase in traffic poses a safety concern for guests. With the bus terminal’s relocation on the Huron Street, people who are getting off the bus are also unable to safely access downtown corridor.
All options must be explored to assess the best location for the bus terminal central to the community. The Machine Shop has asked several times for barriers and adequate fencing on the existing property to provide safety and reduce noise for visitors to the property.
Addressing these issues as soon as possible will mitigate current location concerns, along with providing ample opportunity for the public to provide input prior to the final report presentation to City Council.
The public information sessions held revealed an important message. Not all stakeholders within our community were consulted nor aware of the public sessions. These examples include the Downtown businesses, Soo Greyhounds hockey club and tourism partners.
The greater concern is the lack of consistency of the information provided at the two public information sessions. A clear understanding of the traffic surveys, the basis for the relocation, were inconsistently presented. We were told that there was a survey conducted in 2018 on the January 13th information session and, subsequently at the January 19th meeting, the public was informed that there was second ‘new’ traffic survey that was conducted last week.
If there is a true appreciation for the millions of dollars invested into the City of Sault Ste. Marie by the ownership group at the Machine Shop, City Council must make a conscious effort to address the concerns associated with creating Sault Ste. Marie as one of the top tourism destinations in Northern Ontario.