Photo caption: Selkirk Mayor Larry Johannson, Minister of Finance Greg Dewar and Minister of Environment Tom Nevakshonoff, along with members of Selkirk council, present SaskSteel owner Ben Hoosier with a certificate of completion for removal of the M.S. Lord Selkirk II from the Selkirk slough.
Selkirk council recognized the completion of removal of the M.S. Lord Selkirk II from the slough in Selkirk Park by presenting a certificate of completion to SaskSteel owner Ben Hoosier at a short ceremony in council chambers Dec. 15.
As Selkirk residents know, the once celebrated ship had sat vacant and rotting in the slough for more than 20 years. Efforts by this council, and those who sat for four years prior to last October’s election, were the catalyst to prompting assistance from the provincial and federal governments to have the ship removed.
The ship was deemed an environmental concern as it was leaching contaminants into the water. It was also a safety concern and was set on fire by arsonists in 2012.
The American owners of the ship had filed for bankruptcy and refused to deal with it, forcing the city to take action.
Removal of the ship aligns with Selkirk’s strategic plan which makes environmental stewardship a priority.
Mayor Larry Johannson praised Hoosier for his company’s dedication, and special consideration given, to the job.
“You couldn’t have done a better job,” Johannson said.
“You got the job and then you became a part of our community, you truly did. The community itself was so interested, I’m sure you had daily visitors down there.”
Hoosier and his SaskSteel crew certainly went above and beyond in their decommissioning of the storied ship that in the 1970s took Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip on a trip up the Red River and onto Lake Winnipeg.
Hoosier and his staff began the work of dismantling the Lord Selkirk in September and in November used steel from the ship to create a Remembrance Day display, which they lit for all to see on Nov. 11.
“Lighting the ship up that night, as a farewell, that was something that truly touched everybody’s hearts. It didn’t have to be done, but you did it,” Johannson said.
“With all my heart I want to tell you how much we appreciate that.”
Selkirk CAO Duane Nicol, praised both Hoosier and city staff for working so well together to undertake what he called a “herculean task”. “I am very proud of our staff who, through their creativity, perseverance and sheer force of will, made this project happen. Edie Henrichsen in particular has been a force of nature. She’s had to navigate the uncharted waters of naval wreckage, marine conservation, property rights, U.S. bankruptcy law, and on and on to ensure we could undertake the work and keep the various government departments engaged and supportive of our efforts,” Nicol said.
Nicol also praised Government of Manitoba and Coast Guard staff for their efforts. “There is an unbelievable amount of rules and regulations to work through, but everyone we worked with at the province and the Coast Guard were dedicated to helping us find a way to make this project happen. They were very supportive and deserve a lot of credit.”
Selkirk MLA and Minister of Finance, Greg Dewar, along with Minister of Environment and Water Stewardship, Tom Nevakshonoff, attended the ceremony on behalf of the province and thanked both mayor and council for their efforts as well as Hoosier and SaskSteel.
SaskSteel took the ship apart and the salvageable steel was taken to Gerdau. Parts of the ship were donated to the Selkirk Marine Museum.
Hoosier was touched by the ceremony, and the job itself.
“This has been probably the greatest project that we’ve done. We’ve enjoyed every minute here in Selkirk. We appreciate everything the city did for us, they gave us rock, they gave us power, they gave us water,” Hoosier said.
“When the weather got poor at the end they’d come with their salt truck and help us out. We couldn’t have asked for better partners, straight across.”
He also admitted he has a “soft spot” for ships and that gave the job even more significance for him.
“I felt given the historical significance of the vessel, the part this city played in marine atmosphere of Manitoba, that it was important to give stuff to the museum, to give back. You had to give back,” Hoosier said.
“This was a one-of-a-kind, and it was important to give her respect as well.”
Pressure for removal of the Lord Selkirk was pursued strongly by previous council and continued by current council. The approximately $400,000 cost for removal was shared by the City of Selkirk and the Province of Manitoba. The federal government assisted by taking fuel off the ship last year.
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Chief Administrative Officer
City of Selkirk