Assiginack reinstates agreement with S.S. Norisle Steamship Society

The fate of the Norisle may be up for discussion once again.

MANITOWANING—Following an in camera session of Assiginack council last month, council passed a resolution to reauthorize an agreement between the S.S Norisle Steamship Society and the municipality with the hopes of aiding them in their quest to see the aging vessel refitted at drydock to, hopefully, sail again. 

The ‘S.S. Norisle Refit/Restoration Project Agreement’ states that the township agrees to a partnership in support of the Society’s efforts to repurpose and refit the Norisle and is in support of its efforts.

Under responsibilities, it states that the township will provide safe, secure dockage and utility services as well as the manpower and resources of its public works department to assist in dockside maintenance as requested by the Society and will continue to provide general liability insurance for the Norisle and consider the Society as community volunteers for the purpose of extending all existing coverages to include their work on the Norisle.

The agreement goes on to state that the township will issue charitable tax receipts on behalf of the Society for monetary, in-kind and material donations for the project, that it will provide administrative support and that it will apply for financial aid, grants, donations, gifts or other support for the Society as authorized by council resolution.

On the Society’s side, it promises the attainment of repurposing funds and resources will be its sole responsibility and that it is responsible for scheduling, coordinating and overseeing all efforts to repurpose the ship. Lastly, the Society has agreed to present an annual progress report by way of delegation to the council.

The agreement, which has yet to be signed, will end on the third anniversary of its signing, but will renew automatically for another three-year term unless notice is given by either party.

The township has also agreed to transfer ownership of the Norisle to the Society for the sum of $2 within six months of the Norisle entering a refit drydock.

“This gives the Friends (Society) enough time to do what they wanted to do,” said Mayor Dave Ham, a long-time proponent of the Norisle. He admitted that the S.S. Norisle Steamship Society hasn’t had a meeting in almost five years.

Mayor Ham said he believes the Society’s next step will be to revisit its budget to bring the Norisle up to certain standards, noting its deteriorating hull. At one time, the mayor said there was talk of having the hull cut in half and the ship then ‘stretched’ to allow for more staterooms.

“The ultimate wish is to have her removed from the harbour sooner than later,” he added. “It’s got to be moved out of here.”

What to do with the Norisle has been a contentious issue in the Assiginack community for a number of years. 

The former mayor and council were sued by the Society after they ended support for the group and sought ways to rid themselves of the vessel. The lawsuit wrapped up last year with a settlement in favour of the municipality.

Also last year, the then-council reached an agreement with the Tobermory Maritime Association for the Norisle, which was to be sunk and used as a dive site just outside of the Fathom Five Marine Park near Tobermory.

The Norisle was one of several hot button issues in last fall’s municipal vote.