Alexander Henry one step closer to returning home

City council approved, in principle, contributing up to $125,000 to tow the boat to the Thunder Bay waterfront.

Kingston developer imposed June deadline before ship scrapped

Thunder Bay Council approved, in principle, contributing up to $125,000 to tow the Alexander Henry from Kingston to the waterfront. (http://www.kingstonmuseums.ca/)

The group that wants to bring the former icebreaker Alexander Henry back to Thunder Bay cleared a major hurdle with city council Monday night.

Council approved, in principle, contributing up to $125,000 to tow the boat to the city's waterfront.

The ship is currently docked in Kingston, and needs to be moved to the city by the end of June, before it is scrapped.

The Lakehead Transportation Museum Society said they have conducted a number of reports on the Alexander Henry, including market analysis, an impact report and tourism data, said Wally Peterson., a spokesperson for the socity. The reports, he said, essentially prove that bringing the ship back to Thunder Bay, and maintaining it here, is feasible.

"[The authors of the report] felt that that showed that the city has a strong tie to marine history, and this attraction would bring a lot of people to town," Peterson said.

Peterson estimates they could get 5,000 visitors a year to start, and could get more people onboard once the project gets underway.

"We're at the point now where once city council approves in principle that this will go forward, we're ready to get started and launch major fundraising," he said.

One of the society's major concerns was they couldn't sign contracts with towing companies for the journey if the city did not commit, in principle.

But some, councillors—  like Shelby Ch'ng—  were uncomfortable with last night's decision.

"Can you explain a little bit more to me about the wording 'in principle', because it sounds like we're giving them a small 'y' yes," Ch'ng said. "But, I still haven't seen a business plan."

Administration told council the group was bringing in the business plan, in pieces, and other conditions must also be met.

But Peterson said they're prepared.

"We're doing our best to do our due diligence to make sure that we're not putting ourselves at risk any more than we would want to put the city at risk," Peterson said.

The society said they have even secured a contractor to take the boat off of their hands, if they were to disband.

Pierre Gagne of Gagne Construction said he would dispose of the Alexander Henry at no cost to the city and said he will send a letter to council committing to that.

Despite the first hurdle being cleared, the society still has further to go. They need to sign a lease with the city for Pool 6 land, finalize a business plan, get report of asbestos on the boat, also finalize the condition of the Alexander Henry's hull.

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