Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Flood warning remains in place

Following is the latest official statement on high water conditions in the City of Timmins:Continuing dry weather has resulted in improving watershed conditions upstream of Timmins. Although inflows are much reduced compared to last week, it is expected that water levels on the Mattagami River will remain high for the short term. The Flood Warning remains in place in anticipation of possible wet weather forecast for the weekend.
As part of its community flood response plan, local officials are monitoring streamflow and weather conditions. The Upper Mattagami Water Management Committee, the Ministry of Natural Resources, the City of Timmins and Ontario Power Generation will continue to meet on a daily basis to assess these watershed conditions. The Committee will keep the public informed of the situation through further news releases and bulletins.

Porcupine Lake ice jam

Mother Nature was at work with wind and waves to create a unique ice jam this week at the eastern shore of Porcupine Lake. As the ice cover melted on the lake, the hundreds of ice pans were pushed by the wind and waves up onto the shore creating a natural spectacle not often seen in the spring.

Timmins Downtown BIA protests Parcel Pickup

Timmins city council has joined the BIA to protest the decision by Canada Post to have it’s parcel service farmed out to private interests - - in this case, to Shopper’s Drug Mart. Council has passed a resolution of protest.
Council learned of the issue in a letter from Downtown Timmins BIA chair Andrew Marks that “parcel pickup service is no longer available” and that patrons who have a parcel held for pickup must go to either of the Shopper’s Drug Mart locations.
The letter expressed concern that the downtown post office at Second and Balsam is within easy reach of 250 businesses and roughly 2500 employees in the downtown area. The letter says customer service would be well served by maintaining the parcel pickup service in the downtown area. The letter said to do anything else would be a disservice to downtown merchants. Most city councillors agreed.
“You’d think with something like this, they (Canada Post) would consult with the community,” said Councillor Denis Saudino. He added that he was also concerned that council was getting the information from a third party, such as the BIA and that Canada Post should have taken steps to keep council informed. Saudino added that the post office used to be known for “one-stop shopping”, but that the new system would mean “two-stop shopping”.
“It’s a step backwards as far as I am concerned,” he told council.
“How will this affect post offices in Schumacher and South Porcupine?” Saudino wondered.
Councillor Gary Scripnick called on council to voice unanimous support for the downtown BIA group.
“I do believe this a blow to downtown Timmins,” Scripnick said.
Councillor Mike Doody said the move not only affects downtown workers, but also residents throughout the Ward Five area. He said it would be a burden for those who do not own cars.
“For some this is definitely a loss of service,” said Doody.
Canada Post says the change, in Northern Ontario and across Canada, is to “ take advantage of the longer hours of service (weekends, nights) that outlets in host businesses have.”
Tom Creech, of Canada Post corporate communications says Timmins has two Shoppers Drug Mart outlets in the city to provide postal services.
“Canada Post will attempt delivery of a parcel or an item requiring a signature. If the parcel will not fit in a mailbox, if the customer is not home or if it cannot be placed in a secure location which is not easily visible from the street, a card will be left stating where and when the parcel will be available for pickup. If the customer is not home for an item requiring a signature, a card will also be left,” Creech explained.
“Customers who have a postal box at the Timmins Post Office and who have a large parcel or an item requiring a signature will continue to obtain those items from the retail counter at the post office,” Creech continued.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Fire investigation continues

Fire investigators are still working to determine the “how and why” of the fire that destroyed the school gymnasium and library. “We’re just trying to pinpoint the cause, but so far nothing yet,” said Fire Chief Mike Pintar late Tuesday. He added that at this point there is nothing to indicate there is anything suspicious with the fire.
Pintar was on the scene Tuesday afternoon with an investigator from the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office, Timmins fire department staff and school board officials.
Pintar says his department is reluctant to give any dollar value estimates for fear of clashing with insurance company estimates.
Unofficial estimates are that the damage to the school is several hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Students at the school are being transferred to other schools in the city, likely for the remainder of the school year.
Parents of senior kindergarten students are invited to an information meeting at Ecole St. Gerard tonight at 6:30 p.m. Parents of junior kindergarten students are invited to a seesion at Ecole Don Bosco Thursday at 6:30 p.m.


River conditions improving

Watershed conditions upstream of Timmins continue to improve as streamflows begin to drop in response to the drier weather, it was announced by the Upper Mattagami Water Management Committee on Tuesday.
The committee says it is expected that water levels on the Mattagami River will remain the same or drop slowly in the days to come.
“However, the Flood Warning remains in place in anticipation of possible wet weather forecast for the weekend,” said spokesman Kees Pols.
As part of its community flood response plan, local officials are monitoring streamflow and weather conditions. The water management committee, the Ministry of Natural Resources, the City of Timmins and Ontario Power Generation will continue to meet on a daily basis to assess these watershed conditions. The Committee will keep the public informed of the situation through further news releases and bulletins.

Ecole St. Jean Demolition

Demolition work began this morning at Ecole catholique St. Jean, where fire broke out on Monday. An investigator from the Ontario Fire Marshal's office was also on the scene today. The fire marhsal's office gets involved in a fire investigation whenever the dollar value of damage exceeds $250,000 or whenever there is obvious arson. There has been no indication of arson.

Monday, April 28, 2008

First photos of Ecole catholique St. Jean Fire.

Fire broke out around six oclock this morning at Ecole catholique St. Jean in the north end of Timmins.

Heavy smoke billowed hundreds of metres into the sky as firefighters from Timmins, Schumacher and Mountjoy fought the blaze. Most of the smoke and flame was seen in the southeastern area of the school building, which housed the gym and library.

Click on photos for full size.

Firefighters are expected to be on the scene for most of the day.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Timmins to spend extra $27,000 on grass cutting

Timmins city council appears ready to hire more students to keep the grass cut in city parks and cemeteries. It could cost the taxpayers an additional $27,000 for four more students. Council is expected to make a formal decision on the issue Monday night. The extra cost was not budgeted for.
The issue was raised at last Monday’s city council committee meeting, in response to concerns raised last year about poor grass cutting in city parks and cemeteries.
Timmins leisure services manager Mark Jensen told council that in order to meet the demand to keep city properties neat and clean, his department will need more than the usual compliment of 20 summer students.
Jensen told council there are four options – one is to keep the status quo and stay at 20 summer students, option-two is to hire four more students at the estimated cost of $27,000, option-three is to contract out the landscaping services at an estimated cost of $38,000, option-four is to contract out the landscaping and having the cemetery workers assist the parks workers.
Jensen told council that the extra demand is because the grass in the parks and cemeteries has to be cut twice a week from mid-May to mid-July. While several councillors -- Steve Adams, Pat Bamford, John Curley, Mike Doody, Jack Slatter and Denis Saudino have voiced support to hire more students, two councillors did not.
Councillor Bill Gvozdanovic suggested there were better ways to manage the student crews to get the job done with spending extra money.
He suggested that park maintenance crews could be based out of city arenas, instead of having them all based out of the public works yard on Pine Street South. He suggested valuable time was lost each day having workers travel from public works to the various work sites.
Councillor Gary Scripnick suggested better management would mean more work could be done.
“I am not in favour of additional students,” said Scripnick. “You know too often I’ve gone to a park, I see some students have just run out of work.”
Scripnick says he doesn’t blame the students because they’re not being told what to do. “I don’t think they’re as productive as they can be…. They know they can be more productive than they are,” he told council.
Scripnick said while he is not in favour of hiring more students, he does believe the work of the students should be more closely monitored so that they can be shown how to work more efficiently.

Timmins may become site for solar power

Old mining properties in Timmins may be able to produce a profitable new kind of gold - - energy from golden sunshine.
Goldcorp Porcupine Gold Mines has been approached by consultants looking for vast spaces of empty land that could be set up as solar-panel farms to produce electricity to be sold to the Ontario Power Authority.
It was discussed this week at the meeting of Porcupine Watchful Eye (PWE) that old tailings plots might be considered ideal sites for setting up thousands of solar collector panels that would convert sunshine into electricity.
The concept was revealed by Goldcorp Strategic Development Manager Dave Bucar Wednesday.
“I was approached by a consultant, looking on behalf of various clients, asking where could we put solar panels in Timmins,” Bucar told the meeting.
“For whatever reason, Timmins is apparently a hotbed for solar activity,” Bucar said he was told by the consulting firm.
“I got a second phone call, from out of the blue, from TEDC (Timmins Economic Development Corporation) and they were approached by some contingent from out of the country. And I got a call and they were asking about opportunities we have for solar panels on our tailings dams,” Bucar continued.
Bucar went on to explain that the consultants said they were looking for 100-acre plots of clear flat land where row upon row upon row of solar panels could be installed for a ten megawatt electrical generation plant.
The Environment Canada website lists cities across Canada that have the most sunshine annually. Timmins is in the top 100, but it is ranked at 89th. Sudbury is listed as 45th. North Bay is listed at 53rd. Sault is listed as 58th.
PWE chair Bill Russell suggested that Timmins may have been approached because of it’s obvious lack of smog, which could enhance the efficiency of solar panels.
The criteria outlined that the100-acre plots of land that would need to be located within a few kilometres of the power grid. While looking at a map of Goldcorp properties in the city, Bucar conceded there are local properties that meet the criteria.
Russell suggested the concept could breathe some new life into old mining properties. Bucar suggested the concept had “very interesting potential” but wondered how such a development would affect the mine closure process where any activity involving tailings is strictly controlled by the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Timmins flood warning for Mattagami River

An official flood warning for the Mattagami River has been issued. It came late Thursday afternoon as Members of the Upper Mattagami Water Management Committee continued to monitor the flow of the river.
The water is higher because of all the snowmelt in the bush between Timmins and Gogama.
A statement issued Thursday afternoon said “water levels on the Mattagami River are expected to rise an additional 4 inches (10 cm) over the next 24 hours as upstream storages are adjusted to accommodate high inflows. Low lying properties next to the Mattagami River will be affected.”
“Although water levels on some of the major rivers upstream of Timmins have started to subside, forecast wet weather in the coming days could lead to further increases in stream flows.”
“As part of its flood response plan City officials will be contacting those landowners located nearest the river to ensure that they are prepared should flood waters start affecting their property,” the news release concluded.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Summer car shelters not allowed in Timmins

It is now almost certain that portable car shelters will not be allowed to be set up in front yards of Timmins residential areas in the summer after all.
City council has indicated it will formally give passage to a new bylaw next Monday that will restrict the use of tent-style car shelters in front yards to the winter months only.
Car shelters in side yards and back yards of residential properties may go up for a period of three years, at which time the owner must apply for new permission, from the committee of adjustment.
Car shelters on residential properties in rural areas, however, will be allowed to be set up on a permanent basis, on any part of the property.
The shelters must not exceed 240 square feet in area and they must be kept in good condition and securely anchored.
The issue of the tent-style car shelters first came before city council earlier this year in response to complaints from citizens.
The Timmins zoning bylaw allows for temporary shelters only during winter months, from October 1 to April 30.
In recent years many citizens have put shelters up and have left them up on a year round basis, taking advantage of the fact that no action would be taken by the bylaw officer unless there was a complaint by neighbors.
“One of the things that has happened in the past is that this has not been enforced. And this is what has lead to a bit of a fuss,” said city councillor Pat Bamford on Monday.
“If they are up at the wrong time of the year, It’s appropriate for people to call city hall and ask that the bylaw be enforced. I know people don’t like to tell on their neighbors, but this is the only way this thing is going to work,” said Bamford.
Some citizens feel the shelters are worthwhile to protect their vehicles from the weather. Others feel the shelters reflect poorly on the neighborhood.
City council had been struggling to change the zoning the bylaw to allow for year round shelters in the front area of a property, provided there were no complaints from the neighbors.
“There has to be a way we can manage and keep the tent structures to a minimum and I think we’ve reached that,” said Bamford.
Feedback from citizens has indicated that while most citizens will tolerate the car shelters in their residential neighborhoods in the winter, most are not willing to see the shelters stay up all year round.
“The vast majority of people do not want these as permanent structures,” Bamford told council.
The common complaints were that the shelters were noisy as they flapped in the wind and that they devalued the look of a neighborhood.
Councillor Denis Saudino said the main concern is that shelters will not be allowed in front yards during the summer.
“I think council did the right thing,” said Saudino. ”I think we have to do what’s best for the majority of residents.”

Former Timmins man wins big in Europe

A 22-year Timmins native has won big playing poker.
Glen Chorny won more than 2 million euros (C$3.2 million) last week with the winning hand in the Grand Final of the European Poker Tour.
Chorny, the son of Greg and Kathy Chorny, formerly of Timmins, won the tour at Monte Carlo’s Bay Hotel and Resort on Thursday.
Chorny won the pot with a pair of aces, playing Texas Hold ‘em, over Denes Kalo of Hungary, who held only a king-queen.
"It was tough out there, like a hard day at the office," Chorny said after the game. "Only the rewards are a lot better.”
In an e-mail note to The Timmins Times, Chorny who is enrolled as a business student at Wilfrid Laurier University, says he does not plan to go back to school right away
“I have one semester back in university whenever I want to finish it, but I plan on playing full time as there is too much too lose now by not playing,” he wrote.
He says he learned to play Texas Hold ‘em poker online when he was a teenager.
“Online poker really helped me learn the game fast,” he wrote .”I decided I could be profitable playing in these big live tourneys and knew I had the skills and thought process that would help me win,” he added.
Chorny left Timmins with his family in the early 1990s, when he was an elementary school student, and moved to Toronto.

Log on and free tree at

A Timmins company well-known as a leader in a forest regeneration has issued a unique Earth Day challenge to anyone in the world.
Log on to the new website for Millson Forestry, at, before the end of the this month, send them an e-mail, and the company will plant a tree in your honour.
The challenge was kicked off Friday as Millson unveiled it’s new corporate website as part of a bid to “diversify” itself as a forestry company.
Company forester Monique Koski says Millson will also be selling trees as a “carbon offset” for individuals and organizations that want to make a pro-active statement for the environment.
“The forest industry has been in an unprecedented slump for quite some time, showing no signs of changing,” Koski told an audience and reporters and city officials on Friday. She said Millson has decided to take it’s product to the e-market with the launch of the new website, which includes an online store.
Internet browsers will be able to buys such products as balsam oil, soaps and “oxygen generators”, also known as trees.
“We will plant any number of trees, for anyone, anywhere, that is willing to offset their carbon footprint,” Koski said.
As an example, Koski says one boreal tree, through its lifetime, will offset the carbon produced to take one roundtrip airplane flight between Toronto and Timmins.
“But that’s just for one seat on the plane,” she says.
She says seedlings are a popular item for sale through the net.
“People can buy seedlings for weddings, anniversaries, all sorts of special events,’ said Koski.
She added that once a seedling is purchased, the buyer or recipient will get an e-mail informing when the seedling is planted and GPS coordinates of the area where the seedling is planted.
“It just makes sense because we grow the trees and we do plant trees,” she said.
“We’re going to plant the trees on private land because you know the government seems somewhat near-sighted and we don’t want to stop these trees from sequestering carbon over their entire lifetime. We’re going to monitor the trees and make sure they survive.”

Friday, April 18, 2008

Timmins Police outstanding recruits

Outstanding Recruits. Timmins Police Service welcomed back two new officers this week as two recent recruits have just returned from their mandatory training at the Ontario Police College and received their new badges. On hand for the ceremony Thursday were Timmins Police Chief Richard Laperriere, left, Timmins Mayor Tom Laughren, Police Const. Kevin Drynan, Police Const. Michael Davidson, and Police Services Board Chair Gerald Petroski. It was noted that Const. Davidson had an outstanding achievement at the Ontario Police College as he was chosen as valedictorian for the graduating class of more than 370 recruits from across Ontario. This is a first for the Timmins Police Service.

Timmins creeks running high, fast and cold

Children and pets should be kept away from all fast flowing creeks in the City of Timmins in the coming days.
That warning comes from spokesman Kees Pols of the Upper Mattagami River Water Management Committee, which issued a news release this week.
“Town Creek and Crawford Creek are flowing very fast and you know that water is super cold,” Pols told The Timmins Times.
“So this is more of a water safety bulletin rather than a flood warning or flood advisory,” he added.
But he does advise that with the warmer weather, spring showers and melting snow, there will be conditions of higher water throughout the city.
“City residents can expect all area lakes and rivers to continue rising slowly in the coming days,” says the statement released by the committee. “Although some municipal drains have seen some localized flooding, the larger streams and creeks are open and flowing well. No flooding problems are expected at this time.”
The statement says the snowpack in the bush is “ripe” with water content 110 to 150 per cent above normal. Pols reports that the snow depth is on average 20 inches or 51 centimetres. The water content in that snow is around 6.5 inches or 165 mm.
He says upstream reservoirs on the Mattagami are at or near their minimum.
The statement also says the weather forecast for the next five to ten days is favourable with warmer temperatures, low humidity and windy conditions expected. Some scattered showers are also forecast. The greatest threat for flooding is from a prolonged, warm rain.

Timmins fire may have followed break-in

Timmins Police Service says it believes Wednesday’s Pine Street fire to be “suspicious in nature” based on evidence found near the scene of the fire.
The fire destroyed three businesses on Pine South - - Chez La Coupe, a hair, make-up and tanning salon; What’s “N” Store, a discount shop and Caroline Trahan’s Sound & Soul Studio, a music store.
The fire was first reported around 3:00 a.m. Wednesday. As fire fighters rushed to the scene, they found flames in the northwestern corner on the building on the second floor.
There had been apartments there at one time, but the second floor was empty.
As the effort continued to fight the fire, police were directed to an area east of the burning building, where a cash register was found on the ground. According to a police official, it’s believed the cash register came from a break-in at the building. Timmins Police scene-of-crime officers cordoned the area off immediately and gathered evidence.
One police official has speculated the fire may have resulted from someone trying to cover up a botched break-in.
Battling the blaze took the efforts of firefighters from Timmins, Schumacher, Mountjoy and South Porcupine for more than six hours. The Timmins dayshift was called in to stand by at the main hall in the event there were any other fire calls that day.
The Ontario Fire Marshal’s office was called to assist the investigation.
“We have invited them to join along in the investigation with Timmins Police service to help us determine what caused the fire,” said Timmins Deputy Fire Chief Joe Stojkiewicz.
“Normally when we get a fire this large, with the dollar loss, we have a joint investigation with the police and the fire marshal’s office,” he said.
“We go into the scene and look for burn patterns, fire patterns, consumption,” fire marshal investigator John Montgomery told reporters Wednesday.
“As a general rule of thumb at all of the fires we investigate, we do take debris samples and send those away for forensic examination.” He also estimated the damage to the building and contents to be roughly $300,000 but said only the insurance adjuster would know for sure. The insurance adjuster declined to comment on the value.
On Thursday the investigation continued. Because the building was deemed unsafe for investigators to walk on the second floor, a fire-department aerial truck was used to let the investigators hover over the scene and take photographs.
The building is expected to be demolished and cleared by the end of the week. The fire investigation cont

Thursday, April 17, 2008

More fire scene photos by request

Scroll down to see more. Click on any photo to see it full size.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Collision in Timmins

At least one person was taken to Timmins and District Hospital Wendesday afternoon when two vehicles crashed at the corner of Jubilee and University in Timmins. The collision occurred around 4:00 p.m. and causes traffic to be backed on Jubilee for about 30 minutes. Timmins Police Service is investigating.

Daytime Fire Scene Photo

Firefighters remained on the scene at outside the burned remains of 86 Pine Street South in case of any flare ups. Investigator John Montgomery of the Ontario Fire Marhsal's office has been called to look into finding the cause of the fire where the damage is estimated at $300,000. A city official says the building is likely to be torn down by the end of the week.

First photos of Pine Street fire (posted 4:00 a.m.)

A five-alarm fire in downtown Timmins has destroyed one of the older buildings on Pine Street South. The fire was first reported shortly after 3:00 a.m. and is being fought by firefighters from Timmins, Mountjoy, Schumacher and South Porcupine. (Click photos to see them full size)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Powwow in Timmins

Hundreds of participants and spectators have joined the annual First Nations Powwow at Northern College. One of the most popular events is dancing. Lead dancers Celine Cada, left, and Dale Matasawagon, both from Ottawa were crowd pleasers in their fancy costumes Saturday afternoon.

Susan Aglukark in Timmins.

Juno award winning singer-songwriter Susan Aglukark spoke with students at the Aboriginal Symposium held in Timmins Friday for young people from across Northeastern Ontario. Aglukark, who has become a role model for aboriginal youth, told the students not to let their dreams for greatness, to die. She also told them to strive to be who they want to be, regardless of how long it takes or how much hard work it takes.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Timmins Police chief says more recruits needed

The Timmins Police Service has “critical” need for more officers and at least one city councillor wonders if enough is being done to attract white young males.
The issue was discussed this week when Timmins Police Chief Richard Laperriere presented his department’s new business plan to council.
Laperriere mentioned that recruitment for the service “is a critical issue.” He says Timmins police is looking to hire 20 new officers in the next three years to replace officers who retire or move to other communities.
“Our challenge, and it’s a real challenge, is we have to do more in regards to the recruitment of female and aboriginal candidates,” the chief told council.
Councillor Gary Scripnick told the chief he had seen several summer students who worked at his business trying to get hired on as police recruits.
“. . .WHITE YOUNG MALE. . .”
“It does concern me that if you are a white young male the chances of getting on the Timmins Police force are getting smaller because you’re trying to get these proportions of females and aboriginals,” Scripnick said.
“I know that’s the proper way to go,” he commented, “but a white young male seems to have a hard time to get in, because we’re trying to proportion our forces.”
The chief responded that it’s difficult to attract any candidates at the present, but “I think we still have a mandate in regards to being representative of the community.”
Laperriere told council that five years ago, Timmins police would put out a call for recruits and get 75 applications.
“On our last intake, we had eight,” said the chief.
Councillor Denis Saudino wondered if the hiring process was too expensive in that applicants must pay several hundred dollars up front, just to get to the interview process.
The chief says it’s a common and accepted practice among police services in Ontario that applicants must reach an accepted standard being being considered.
“Our pool right now is limited. They have to meet a certain set standard and if they don’t meet that standard, then basically we can’t give them an offer to hire,” said Laperriere.
In his report, the chief also told council that the police service is being run more efficiently that most. The average cost per capita for policing in Ontario is $240. In Timmins, Laperriere said the figure is only $224.
Laperriere says Timmins Police is also working to reduce incidents of violent crime and youth crime. He says youth crime will be partially addressed in 2009 with an effort to appoint a First Nations liaison officer
“There will be real growth in our aboriginal population and we need to do more,” he told council.
The chief also said there will be stepped-up enforcement of aggressive driving in Timmins with a crackdown on speeding offences. It’s hoped this will result in fewer accidents and fewer personal injuries. He says police are working to set up an aggressive driver hotline, where motorists can call in to report bad drivers.

Timmins boarders, bladers and BMXers smiling

Boarders, bladers and BMX bikers in Timmins are smiling. The Rotary Club of Timmins-Porcupine has pledged $50,000 towards the creation a new community youth park in the central part of the city for 2012.
Rotarian Gary Scripnick, a businessman and city councillor, announced this week that if enough community partners can come together, there is a good chance the new park could be created for the final year of the city’s 100th anniversary celebrations in 2012.
The initial plan is for a 20,000 square-foot area that would appeal to a variety of wheel sports such as skateboarding, rollerblading and BMX riding. Basketball courts are also being considered.
A core group is being set up to plan a location for such a park and to consider the costs and fundraising plans. The overall cost of the venture could be as high as $800,000. Discussions so far have indicated the Hollinger Park would be an ideal location for the facility.
Scripnick is optimistic that a state-of-the-art park would be a first class feature for Timmins and allow a large group of wheel sports followers to enjoy themselves in a central and safe environment.
Rotary has a history of significant community projects in the city. One of the best known is the Rotary recreational trail which connects the east end with the central part of Timmins for cyclists and hikers.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Bridge costs infuriates Timmins city council

“Let’s sue the government.”
That comment from councillor Mike Doody was one of the suggestions that came out of heated debate Monday night when Timmins city council learned that the cost of repairing the Barber’s Bay Bridge on Highway 67, is going to be millions more than expected.
When council debated the issue one year ago, the cost of the project was estimated at $2.5 million.
At Monday night’s council meeting, city engineer Luc Duval told council the project is now closer to $5 million.
Highway 67 is the most direct highway link between Timmins and hundreds of shoppers and employees who live in Iroquois Falls, but travel to Timmins each day.
Timmins has only $1.5 million set aside for the project. To move ahead and build a new bridge, the mayor told council Timmins would have to borrow from $2.4 million to $3.5 million.
This infuriated several council members who have argued all along that the road should not be a municipal responsibility. The road was “downloaded” to Timmins in 1999 by the Ontario government.
“Thank you Mike Harris, wherever you are…” Doody muttered with a hint of sarcasm.
Doody said that after reviewing the options, maybe council could consider shutting the bridge down and forcing the province to take notice. Doody said the government had no business downloading that portion of road in the first place.
Doody said there could be a good argument made to sue the province.
“If we think we can make a case to have it uploaded (returned back to the province), we shouldn’t be afraid to go to court,” he told council.
“You know, there comes a point when they (Queen’s Park) ask you do to do certain things that are just not viable to the taxpayers of our community.
“I don’t know how we’re going to pay for this,” said a visibly upset Councillor Denis Saudino.
“We have zilch, nothing,” said Saudino. “When are we going to take a stand with the province and say ‘look, we can’t afford it’,?”
Despite the anger over the growing cost of the project, the consensus at council appears to be to move ahead with the project as soon as possible and to continue fighting the government for additional money.
Mayor Laughren reminded councillors that if Timmins decided to ignore the bridge project and eventually shut down Highway 67, it would force all traffic onto Highway 610. Laughren suggested that large logging trucks would have a serious impact on Highway 610.
Councillor Gary Scripnick was concerned that the cost of the project was inflated because contractors are busy enough with other large projects that they can demand a higher price. In this case, contractors have indicated the price would be $1.5 million higher.
Scripnick said council might consider holding off for a year or two to give the city more time to negotiate a more reasonable contract.
But engineering manager Seguin told council there have been “punch through failures” on the deck of the bridge already.
Council will also have to debate whether to close the road for one whole summer, to allow for the re-construction, or two keep one lane of the bridge open to traffic while construction continues.
The cost of keeping one lane open during construction will cost an additional $1 million.
Mayor Laughren has requested a report from engineering on how a temporary closure of the bridge will affect such community partners as police and fire services in the Barber’s Bay area.

Timmins car shelter bylaw still not final

Timmins city council appears to be in agreement that it will not be approving the idea of portable car shelters in the front yards of residential areas on a year round basis.
Council discussed the issue again Monday in light of numerous complaints councillors received after the issue was revealed in The Timmins Times.
Council has already had first and second readings on a bylaw to regulate the tent-style car shelters in Timmins. Currently, the Timmins zoning bylaw allows for the tent shelters to be set up in front yards only, during the winter months, from October 1 to April 30.
The bylaw current allows shelters in sideyards and backyards, however, on a year round basis.
In view of complaints from shelter owners who want the right to have shelters up on a year round basis, the city’s planning department was asked to submit various options for council to consider.
One of the options would place a three-year limit on shelters, thus forcing shelter owners to apply to the committee of adjustment every three years, for permission. Another option was to allow residents to apply to the committee of adjustment for permission to have a shelter in the front area of their property year round. That option would require agreement from all the neighbors where the shelter would be located.
The majority of council members did not appear in favour of those ideas.
Several letters from the public also indicated that while many city residents tolerate the shelters in the winter, they are not in favour of seeing car shelters in the summer.
Councillors also report they have received direct complaints from citizens.
Councillor Mike Doody told council that many residents are okay with the shelters in the winter, “but once Spring comes, they want them down.”
“There has to be a standard,” said Doody.
Councillor Pat Bamford said, “of all the calls I’ve had, and I have a few… they are strongly against any permanent structure front or back.”
Bamford add that neighbors get annoyed by the sound of the tents flapping in the wind and the fact that the shelters begin to deteriorate after a few years becoming “unsightly.”
It’s expected council will discuss the issue at least once again before voting on a final version of the bylaw. In the meantime, the current bylaw still stands.

Timmins residents win zoning battle -- for now

A group of Timmins residents may have won their battle to keep a quarry from being set up near their homes in the Laforest Road area, at least for the time being.
The issue involves 11 large parcels of land, located south of Laforest Road between Highway 655 and MacLean Drive.
Leo Alarie and Son’s Limited had applied to have the land rezoned from Rural Wilderness and Rural Agricultural lands to Industrial Aggregate Removal zoning, which would allow for the extraction and processing of sand and gravel for road building purposes.
City council has decided to refuse the plan unless the Alarie company can supply further documentation. Alarie was required to provide a peer review study to show that it’s quarry proposal would not have a detrimental impact on the surrounding area.
Because that review has not been done, council has indicated it will not likely move ahead with the zoning change.
A formal vote on the issue is expected to occur at the April 15 council meeting.
The plan was strongly opposed by many residential property owners along Laforest Road who argued they purchased their properties for the qualities of peace and quiet.
Alarie will have 30 days to appeal council’s decision to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) if it feels it has a strong enough case to argue for the zoning change. The OMB has the power to overturn any decision of council.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Timmins concerned over size of ridings

A municipal resolution from southern Ontario stirred up some angry feelings among members of Timmins city council this week.
Council was voting on a support resolution from the City of St. Catharines, which is pushing the federal government to have more MPs for Ontario, based on equitable representation by population. One Timmins councillor suggested the North is so big, there should be representation by area as well.
Another suggested he is fed up with leaders ‘down south’ telling Northerners how to act.
While some councillors were ready to endorse the St. Catharine’s resolution, others worried that it could backfire for Northern Ontario, where the population is declining.
In the past 20 years, the number of federal ridings in the North has been reduced from 11 to nine.
“I am not sure which way this will go, and if this is a good move or not,” said city councillor John Curley.
“I think at some point we have to have area representation,” Curley suggested.
He added that if representation by population becomes the only measure of a riding, it would be detrimental for Northern Ontario.
Councillor Denis Saudino said he supported the resolution in principal but he too is worried that federal and provincial ridings are getting too big.
The riding of Timmins-James Bay is 249,000 square kilometres. It sits beside the riding of Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing, which is more than 100,000 square kilometres.
“There are provinces that are not as big as those ridings,” said Saudino.
“I am more concerned about the ever growing borders of the ridings,” Saudino added. “There has got to be a limit on the size.”
Councillor Gary Scripnick said he too was concerned about riding size because he sees it as a loss of political clout.
“This is an issue that concerns me greatly. You know we have eighty percent of the size of Ontario,” said Scripnick.
“We live in this area. And pretty much we are dictated to by the south about how we do things up here.”
He cited the example of Queens Park imposing a lucrative diamond mining tax to take advantage of the new De Beers project. Scripnick said such actions are harmful to the long term sustainability of the mining industry.
“You know we don’t get a voice,” he said.
“We know what happened with the bear hunt. People from another area told us what we’re gonna do with all the bears up here. We live in nature and how we handle that is a decision we should make,” Scripnick argued. “And we shouldn’t have all these other people making those decisions for us.
“You know I am not speaking for a Northern Ontario separate from the rest, but there’s gotta be a way of making southern Ontario sensitive. We live in big open spaces. We need the mining and the forestry industries,” Scripnick continued.
“I can’t accept for people down there to come up and tell us how we should cut our trees, how we should do the mining, what we should do with our bears.”

Northern College watercolor by Timmins artist

An original new watercolor depiction of Northern College in Porcupine by Timmins artist Gayle Ballantyne was unveiled Thursday as part of Northern's 40th anniversary celebrations. (click on photo for larger size)

Timmins ignored by province on ambulance issue

Timmins taxpayers are paying nearly $800,000 a year more to the province than they should be paying, but the province of Ontario is ignoring the complaints from Timmins City Hall.
The issue is the cost of land ambulance service which Timmins pays for through the Cochrane District Social Services Administration Board (CDSSAB). It runs the ambulance service for Timmins, Iroquois Falls, Black River-Matheson, Cochrane, Kapuskasing and Hearst.
A frustrated councillor Denis Saudino told council Monday that Queen’s Park is not responding to the several attempts by Timmins to discuss the issue.
“If we were on our own, if Timmins was isolated and separated from the other communities and you said ‘Okay Timmins let’s hear the cost to run a land ambulance service in Timmins’, it would be 800,000 less each year than what it is today. That’s a simple as I can make it,” said Saudino.
“We’re subsidizing either the provincial government which is not giving us enough, or we are subsidizing the other municipalities, however you want look at it,” he said. “I don’t like to blame the other municipalities because they’re in a financial crunch as much as we are,” Saudino said.
Timmins CAO Joe Torlone told council he cannot understand why the province is blatantly ingoring the city.
“We began this on February 4, 2005, we first started this and our last presentation was February 6, 2008 , so its three years and one day,” Torlone told council.
He added that the city has sent six letters and one very strong-worded resolution to the province as well.
“We’ve had a firm ‘thank you’,” Torlone said, adding ““There is definitely a funding inequity of about $780,000 a year.”
Councillor Mike Doody suggested the city should contact other municipalities to get them on-side with the issue so that a united front can be presented to the province.
Doody suggested it would be a good issue to bring the funding issue to the attention of Northern Development Minister Michael Gravelle at the annual meeting of the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities in Saulte Ste. Marie in May.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Largest ever single drug bust in Timmins

Timmins police have continued their crackdown on local drug traffickers with the city’s largest ever single drug seizure from a private residence. Timmins Police drug unit Sergeant Rick Blanchette, right, announced Tuesday that several local residents were charged after police raided homes in the city’s north end and in the west end.
In one of the homes, police seized 2,000 grams of marijuana, several Oxycontin tablets and more than 1,200 grams of cocaine, which Blanchette says has a street value of more than $120,000.
“This seizure is in my view probably the single largest single drug seizure we’ve done here in the history of the Timmins Police Service,” said Blanchette.In that instance, police have charged 45-year-old Jean Yves Bouchard and 43-year-old Leanne Bouchard with possession of drugs, and possession of drugs for the purpose of trafficking.
Two younger persons, under the age of 18, are also charged in connection with that raid in the west end. In the second raid, police seized more than 500 grams of marijuana, contraband cigarettes and more than $15,000 in cash.
Police say 50-year-old Gerard Pelletier is charged with possession of drugs for the purpose of trafficking and possession of property obtained by crime, in connection with that incident. Police say the overall value of illegal drugs seized was more than $175,000. Police also seized several firearms in their raids.

Shelter bylaw has opponents

The city’s plan to allow for year round car shelters in residential areas of Timmins has been put on hold for at least two more weeks. Council had been preparing to pass the bylaw this week, but there have been public complaints against that plan.
Timmins city council has already had first and second reading on a bylaw that would allow tent–style car shelters to be set up on residential properties year round, under strict conditions.
Currently the zoning bylaw allows for temporary shelters only during winter months, from October 1 to April 30.
In recent years many citizens have put shelters up and have left them up on a year round basis, taking advantage of the fact that no action would be taken by the bylaw officer unless there was a complaint by neighbors.
Some citizens feel the shelters are worthwhile to protect their vehicles from the weather. Others feel the shelters reflect poorly on the neighborhood.
City council had been preparing to change the zoning the bylaw to allow for year round shelters in the front area of a property, provided there were no complaints from the neighbors.
The city has received several vocal complaints and at least two written complaints.
City councillor Pat Bamford suggested that the complaints be taken seriously.
“I don’t think anyone wants to see 20-thousand of these going up in the community.
And maybe the neighbors don’t want to see them next door,” Bamford told council.
“In my opinion we may have gone a little bit too far,” he added.
“There is a concern by the two letters we received and I think they would be echoed by a lot of people. Maybe we shouldn’t be approving permanent shelters in the front yard.”
Council agreed to defer a final vote on the bylaw so that further discussion can occur at the committee level.

Timmins $100,000 salary sunshine list

The Ontario Government has once again released it’s list of government employees who are paid more than $100,000 annually. The information, informally called the Sunshine List, is published once a year by the Ontario Ministry of Finance showing the salaries of government workers for the previous year.
The list includes workers employed by the City of Timmins and the Timmins and District Hospital.
The top money earners at city hall include CAO Joe Torlone at $165,327; city clerk Jack Watson at $148,.500; city treasurer Bernie Christian at $131,863; community development director Mark Jensen at $121,686; public works deputy director Norm Bruce at $122,579; Golden Manor administrator Heather Bozzer at $112,491; water plant chief operator Bruce Larose at $110,259; human resources manager Rock Foy at $103,775; information technology director David Laneville at $103, 113; airport manager Harley Nikkel at $101,.514.
Other city salaries included Fire Chief Mike Pintar at $105, 195; Police Chief Richard Laperriere at $159, 589; Deputy Police Chief Des Walsh at $133, 431; Police Insp. Mike McGinn at $115, 785; Police Insp. Paul Bonhomme at $110,297; Staff Sergeant (now retired) Gary Benoit at $101,290.
TDH employees on the list include Administrator Esko Vainio at $280,564; Chief Nursing Officer Carol Halt at $158,876; Diagnostic Imaging Manager Guy Guindon at $125,955, Chief Financial Officer Brian Bennetts at $122,745; Registered Nurse Lorna Moreau at $120,174; Registered Nurse Stella Marenger at $120,058; Human Resources Director Richard Cylbulskie at $118,436; Chief Hurman Resources Officer Mike Resetar at $111,734; Registered Nurse Kristine Bielaski at $110,161; Registered Nurse Claudette Yungwirth at $108,570; Pharmacist Diane Lawrence at $107,772; Registered Nurse Helen Peever at $106,041; Registered Nurse Sandra Dunn at $101,032; Clinical Services Director Carlo Delorenzi at $100,694;