Friday, March 28, 2008

Court levies $20,000 fine for unsafe elevator

A numbered Sudbury company has pleaded guilty to a public safely violation for operating an unsafe elevator at St. Mary’s Manor in Timmins.
1039434 Ontario Ltd. was fined $20,000 by the Ontario Court of Justice in Timmins for violating the Technical Standards and Safety Act in June of 2007.
The company that operated the Manor had failed to ensure that the elevator was running safely.
Subsequently, the elevator was ordered to be shut down and that in turn led to the manor closing since very few of the residents were able to negotiate the stairs.
The owner was subsequently charged with five counts against the Act for its unsafe operation. With a summons to first appear in court on August 16, 2007, Ontario 1039434 Ltd. pleaded guilty today to the first count - failing to ensure the elevating device was not used or operated unless maintained by a registered contractor - levied with a fine of $20,000.

Lighten up if you're going to the Timmins dump

Starting April 1, Timmins residents will be weighed every time they make a trip to the dump at Pine Street South in Deloro Township. It’s no April Fools prank.
As part of a more scientific approach to waste management, the city now has computerized weigh scales in place that will measure how much garbage is going into the landfill.
People hauling garbage to the dump will have to drive their vehicles onto the scales. The weight is then registered. On the trip out of the dump, the vehicle is weighed again to determine how much lighter it is.
Marcel Cardinal, the city’s sanitation supervisor says this ultimately helps determine how much material is going into the landfill in terms of household waste, commercial waste and industrial waste.
“These are the vital tools to run a landfill site,” Cardinal told reporters this week.
“Ultimately when you know your weights going in we can use those numbers to calculate waste diversion. It tells us how efficiently our community is recycling. It assists us in accurate reporting to government agencies. It assists us in long term planning for the landfill site. And that’s the critical one. Instead of being reactive, we want to be pro-active,” he said.
Cardinal says by knowing how much waste goes into the landfill, the city will be better able to predict the overall life of the landfill. Cardinal says it could be anywhere from 35 to 90 years.
Timmins mayor Tom Laughren agreed on the importance of having that information since the environmental rules for a new landfill in Ontario are so strict that it would cost tens of millions of dollars to create a new dump. He says everything must be done to extend the life of the existing landfill.
Laughren says it puts added importance on the role of recycling and finding ways to reduce individual garbage output.
Cardinal says he is also looking at creating an industrial compost facility at the dump, where organic material such as weeds and grass clippings can be converted into rich soil to be used in city parks and gardens.
Cardinal says all the information is available for residents on the City of Timmins website under the waste management tab. The city’s 16-page garbage disposal bylaw is there.
The document shows that tipping fees are in place for large loads of household waste and construction and demolition materials. Those bringing in large loads will be expected to pay a tipping fee. Commercial users will likely sign an invoice. Cash and Interac payments are also accepted.
In most cases, however, there is no charge for everyday household trash.
Cardinal says the exemption for household trash is 500 kilograms per visit, which he says is more than enough for weekly trash disposal.
The mayor said there would be very little change for city residents.
“Everybody goes across the scale but at the end of the day when you come out here with your two bags of garbage in your car, you’re not going to pay,” said the mayor.
The new system will create minor delays for those bringing in their trash.
Cardinal says the system is set up to create a smooth traffic flow and drivers can easily follow the signs and traffic signals when the enter and leave the landfill site.
Cardinal agreed that bringing in a load of trash on a weekend afternoon might create some traffic jams. He says bringing trash in during off-peak periods will be much easier.

Porcupine Lake Rejuvenation Project

The Porcupine Lake Rejuvenation Project was officially kicked off this week with a significant donation from Goldcorp Porcupine Gold Mines (PGM).
The company presented a cheque in the amount of $50,000 Wednesday night.
The project, which will be carried out in phases over several years, will see the creation and improvement of hiking and walking trails around Porcupine Lake along with several new gateways and access points for the public. The overall cost is estimated at more than $330.000.
There is a parallel project underway to see the rejuvenation of the Bannerman Park, which is located at the eastern point of Porcupine Lake, beside Highway 101.
The rejuvenation plans will coincide with several of the 100th anniversary celebrations that will be observed in the city from 2009 to 2012.
The Porcupine Lake plan was outlined by Mattagami Region Conservation Authority manager Kees Pols, who has played an active role in the rejuvenation of Gillies Lake in the past 25 years.
Pols said fundraising for the project will be done in partnership with the Wintergreen Fund for Conservation and the organizers of the Bannerman Park Rejuvenation Project.
The plan will see the creation of a formal trail network around the lake, along with rest areas, shelters, park benches and 20 access points, or gateways, where the public can easily reach the trails.
Pols says the effort will take several years to complete, but he is confident it will come about.
“When you take on this sort of project, you have to expect to spend some time at it,” said Pols.
The proposal to rejuvenate Bannerman Park grew out of the 2002 Whitney Reunion, said organizer Billie Rheault. She said funding for that reunion was done with the proviso that any extra monies would be directed at Bannerman Park.
When the Wintergreen Fund announced last year it was looking for partnerships on fixing up the Porcupine Lake area, the Bannerman Park Committee decided to get on board.
The Bannerman Park project will also be done in phases, over a several years.
The basic plan it to turn it into a popular green space for picnics, outdoor community events and even a place of solitude.
PGM Manager Chris Cormier said that his company was pleased to be the kickoff sponsor of the project simply because it was the Dome Mine, one of PGM’s predecessor companies, that pioneered gold mining in the camp.
“This is sort of bringing back the past,” Cormier noted. “Some of these trails started 100 years ago. They’re certainly not new – probably all overgrown in some cases. They’ve been around a lot longer than us.
“As most of you know our company has been associated with Timmins now for just about 100 years. That’s quite exciting. We’ve got employees that are fifth generation, grew up in Porcupine and South Porcupine,” he said.
“We’re very aware of the history we’ve had in this community and we certainly wanted to be involved,” said Cormier

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Bear and Bearskin incidents at Timmins Airport

What may be the first nuisance bear incident of the season occurred last week at the Timmins Airport when a bear cub was seen wandering onto Runway 03/21 by crew members of two separate planes approaching for their landings.
It happened at about 4:00 p.m. on Monday Mar. 17 according to the incident report filed with Transport Canada.
A third incoming aircraft made a low pass to determine if the bear was on or off the runway. Other incoming aircraft were diverted to Runway 10/28.
All runways were then closed for approximately 10 minutes, field maintenance staff were called out “and the situation was dealt with,” the report says.
An airport official confirmed for The Timmins Times that the young bear was in bad shape, suffering with a broken foot. The animal was put down in a humane manner. The Ministry of Natural Resources was advised, but did not respond.
Another incident later in the week forced the runways to be shutdown when an incoming Bearskin Lake Metroliner landed on Runway 03/21 and then “slid off of the runway approximately 300 feet south of runway 10/28”. According to the Transport Canada report, the incident occurred early last Wednesday morning, Mar. 19.
“The aircraft was stuck but there were no reported injuries,” the report states. The report does not indicate how many persons were aboard the plane at the time it slid off the runway.
“Runway 03/21 was closed and runway 10/28 was 100% snow-covered. Other traffic returned to their points of departure or cancelled their intended flights to Timmins Airport. The aircraft was removed and runway 03/21 was plowed/swept before it was re-opened at 0140 Zulu. (5:40 a.m. Eastern Standard Time).
An airport official said the incident was minor in nature and that the aircraft was immediately checked out and it was discovered there was no damage to the plane.
A further incident occurred Wednesday evening, when an Air Creebec flight reported that it was not getting an indication that it’s landing gear was properly deployed for a landing.
The incident was reported around 7:00 p.m. Wednesday. Emergency response paramedics and firefighters rushed to the airport. There were five emergency vehicles on standby.
After about twenty minutes, the plane approached the airport where it was confirmed that all landing gear was in place. The twin-engined commuter plane landed safely.

Timmins woman highlighted in skilled trades book

Mining jobs are getting a higher profile in the annual SKILLS WORK! book sent out to high schools across Ontario.
This book profiles 54 career options in the skilled trades and for the first time mining positions hold a prominent position in it, with no less than six specific technical mining jobs defined. The book also has a feature article on a young Timmins woman who now works in the mining industry.
The target audience for the Skills Canada Ontario book is high school and predominantly Grade 10 students, who have career studies as a half course in the Ontario curriculum.
The 98-page SKILLS WORK! book features profiles of career paths such as production miner, mine technologist, instrumentation and remote control technician, health and safety technician, geological technician and environmental technician. Each job profile describes the nature of the work, where people with these skills are employed, the type of education, training and experience needed to gain the position and salary expectations. Much of the information in these profiles was prepared by the Ontario Mining Association´s Education and Outreach Committee, which has broad representation from mining industry employers.
Skills Canada Ontario, which opened its doors in 1989, is a not-for-profit organization with a mandate to promote careers in skilled trades and technologies as viable, first-choice job employment options for young people in Ontario.
In the introduction to the 2008 edition of the SKILLS WORK! book, the organization´s Executive Director Gail Smyth credits the OMA as one of the groups which made the publication possible. Along with the mining career paths featured, the book also contains a profile of the OMA, an Ontario mine map and an article on Amy Laforge, a 24-year-old geological technologist, who works for Xstrata Copper at the Kidd Creek Mine in Timmins. Laforge is one of eight young people profiled in the book who have opted for employment in the technology and skilled trades areas.
"If someone is outgoing and is interested in the hands-on aspects of geology and has a sense of adventure, I would encourage them to try this work," said Laforge in her article. "The mining industry needs skilled employees and this is the type of work that literally can take you anywhere in the world."
The OMA is pleased to support Skills Canada Ontario in its efforts to let young people know the facts about the exciting opportunities that exist in the skilled trades and technology fields.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Timmins Seeks Pothole Solutions

Pothole reporting has taken on a new twist in Timmins. Pothole spotters no longer have to grumble about their discoveries in the coffee shop. They can now go online and report it on the pothole section on the City of Timmins website.
The new reporting procedure was revealed to city council this week as council members discussed the annual pothole problem. The input page asks the pothole spotter to describe the location of the hole and the dimensions of the hold in inches.
The pothole reporting page is located at:
Pothole spotters may also report in via e-mail at:
Residents who do not have ready access to the internet can report a pothole via telephone by calling Public Works at 360-2600 ext. 2646.
The revelation of pothole reporting on the city’s website led to more serious discussions about what the city can do to resolve the pothole problems.
City Engineer Luc Duval told council that during a recent visit to the Ontario Good Roads Association conference in Toronto, he met with several road building and road-repair experts to discuss new and better ways of looking after roads.
“There were quite a few exhibits of contractors and suppliers that offer different products. I stopped at every booth and gathered information,” said Duval who says he will be working to measure successes and failures.
Councillor Gary Scripnick reminded council he had asked for a report last year on finding better ways.
“We’ve all seen the truck run around trying to shovel hard asphalt out of the back -- have we progressed to any other better means of filling potholes this year, or are we doing it the same as we did last year?”, Scripnick asked. “I was hoping it would be better this year than last year.”
“To keep it simple, could we have someone phone around to the other communities, North Bay, Sudbury, Parry Sound and find out if they have three guys in a truck shoveling, or do they have any other equipment?,” Scripnick asked. “I am not asking for a complicated report,” he added.
Councillor John Curley told council he knows there is a business in Sudbury that promises to have a realistic and reliable solution. Curley suggested the city may want to contact the supplier to send a few truckloads of material to Timmins to test it out on Northern Ontario roads such as Algonquin Boulevard.
Councillor Denis Saudino said he endorsed Curley’s idea of having a realistic Northern Ontario solution.
Saudino said Timmins is “the perfect lab, I’m talking about a testing lab, and that’s Algonquin Boulevard.”
He said the Northern winters and heavy ore trucks and log-haulers give Timmins roads a severe beating.
“Maybe we should issue a challenge to these companies,” said Saudino. “We give them one section of Algonquin to try out their products and have a runoff and have a contest.”
He suggested that a prize of five or ten thousand dollars be presented to the business that shows off the best pothole patching product.
Saudino said Sault ste. Marie and Sudbury also have serious pothole problems and that driving in North Bay last week “was like a minefield.”
“There’s got to be some solution. Its frustrating for our department and just as frustrating for the public,” said Saudino.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

East End environmental embarassment

The City of Timmins is set to take action on the historic East End environmental embarrassment known as the Bob’s Lake lagoon. The city has contracted a local engineering firm to find ways how to resolve the issue of contaminated runoff from the lagoon, finding its way into Porcupine Lake.
The Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE) has “suggested” that the City of Timmins “address” the issue of the lagoon, which is a storage pond for sewage from several dozen homes near Bob’s Lake.
This follows an MOE study that shows that “phosphorous levels in both the Porcupine Lake and Porcupine River were found to be elevated to levels well above the natural background levels.”
Phosphorous, which is a key nutrient in plant growth, if often caused by sewage and “gray water” that finds its way into lakes and rivers.
It was welcome news for Ward Four city councillor Pat Bamford, who suggested there would be cheering in Pottsville and the Bob’s Lake subdivision.
“People who are living in that area know there is a smell coming from the east end of the lake. Some people are saying it’s the weeds. Others are saying it’s the raw sewage going into the lake,” said Bamford.
Bamford said the city has known about the problem for years and he feels that the best way to solve the problem will be to shut down the lagoon and upgrade the sewage system.
“The most expensive option will be to decommission the lagoon,” said Bamford.
“Quite frankly, to me, it’s the only way to go. We’ve been looking at this problem for decades the issue hasn’t been dealt with,” he added.
“. . .OPEN SEWAGE. . .”
“How can we have an open sewage lagoon in a residential area?”, he asked.
“It’s going to cost millions to fix, but I think we’ve got to bite the bullet and deal with it. Of course the Whitney treatment plant will have to be dealt with as well,” he said.
Bamford said the lagoon is only part of the problem. He said the other issue is the “cross connection” of storm sewers and sanitary sewers in Porcupine, which means there are times when raw sewage is being flushed into Porcupine Lake.
On a positive note, Bamford suggested that despite the cost, the initiative could be regarded as a valuable 100th anniversary project to bring Porcupine Lake back to the pristine condition it was in 100 years ago.
In further discussions, councillor Bill Gvozdanovic discussed whether the city is being ordered to do the work by the Ministry of Environment. Gvozdanovic said he wondered whether it was essential to spend three million dollars in one year, or to spread the spending out over two or three years.
Gvozdanovic questioned the urgency of the project and wondered if the city was being “mandated” to take action by MOE.
City engineer Luc Duval said his department was being proactive by taking steps to resolve the phosphorous issue.
City administrator Joe Torlone said it was in the city’s best interest to cooperate with the environment ministry.
“We’re not being ‘made’ to do this today,” said Torlone. “But if we don’t cooperate, we could be ‘made’ to do this tomorrow.”

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Barbara Ashe of Timmins was one the many Irish and Irish-at-heart who celebrated March 17th in style, at Micky J’s Bighouse Bar & Grill.

Timmins to provide wireless hotspots

Wireless internet users will soon be able to find more on-ramps to the information highway in Timmins.
The city is planning to set up 25 wireless internet access points at city-owned facilities throughout Timmins.
In a report accepted by council, information technology manager David Laneville explained that partnering with NEOnet would allow the service to be set up “with little or no additional costs” for the city.
Laneville said all city facilities, such as the arenas, city hall, Shania Twain Centre and even the McIntyre Coffee Shop are already hardwired for internet service. He said it would be a matter of setting up wireless routers in those areas that would provide the service to those with wireless laptops or other portable devices.
Laneville says the project depends on a funding application submitted by NEOnet to higher levels of government. He said any incidental costs could be easily absorbed into the existing budget.
City council members endorsed the idea. Coun. Gary Scripnick said parents or visiting hockey fans would be able to go watch a game and get caught up on e-mails and other internet activities.
“I think this is a fabulous thing. I hope council supports it,” he said.
Coun. Steve Adams said he could see the benefit for tourists and visiting business people in being able to access their computers throughout the city.
Laneville said the service would be provided free to the public, unlike the way it is done in most of downtown Toronto, where wireless services now have a fee.
Laneville explained that when there is a fee for the service there is the expectation that the service will operate everywhere, without fail.
He said Timmins is not yet equipped to provide that level of service.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Gas Bar Robbery this morning

Timmins Police Service Release:At approximately 5:44 am Friday, March 14, 2008 an unknown male robbed the Canadian Tire Gas Bar situated at 77 Waterloo Road in Timmins. The male is described as being Caucasian, 5’9” tall, skinny, about 150-160 pounds and is in his early twenties. The male has a lot of freckles on his face and a noticeable brown spot above one of his eyebrows. He was wearing sunglasses, a neck warmer pulled over his mouth, black leather jacket, black hoody and a pair of baggy jeans. The male was armed with a knife and made off with an undisclosed quantity of cash and cigarettes.
Anyone with information concerning this crime is asked to call the Timmins Police Service at 264-1201 or Crime Stoppers at 268-8477.

CBC Radio broadcast in Timmins

Timmins needs more new houses, more affordable rental units and more construction workers to meet the housing crunch brought on by the upswing in the mining sector.
That was all part of the discussion at a roundtable meeting broadcast live on on CBC radio Thursday morning, from the kitchen of housing contractor Peter Beacage Jr. He was joined by Timmins realtor Roberta Toner, owner of Claimpost Realty, Timmins Mayor Tom Laughren and reporter-host Erik White.
In response to the first question of how difficult it is to buy a home, Toner said the Timmins market is very tight.
“Depending on what you’re looking for, it’s extremely tough. If you’re looking for a medium range house, there’s nothing on the market,” she said.
She added that realtors are now facing more and more out-of-town clients who are not always able to buy a home before moving their new jobs in Timmins.
“It’s a serious problem only because you have a lot of mining activity taking place within the community and a lot of the mining companies would like to move their professional people in,” said Mayor Laughren. He added there are many mining professionals who actually commute into Timmins from such places as Thunder Bay and Toronto.
Builder Pete Beaucage Jr. told the discussion the building trades are busier than ever just trying to keep pace with the demand. Beaucage says most new home construction in Timmins used to be a seasonal thing.
“Now it’s getting to the point where its 12 months a year,” he said. “Winter time doesn’t really slow us down that much. We’re still in full force. We’re building more new houses in the winter time. But the demand is there you know so we’ve got to keep building . We’ve got to get the houses out there for the homebuyers.”
Beaucage said that even though the construction industry is in full swing, it’s not all rosy. He says there is noticeable shortage of skilled trades workers which is actually delaying some jobs. He expressed the hope that educators would do more to steer young people to the construction trades which he says can be rewarding.
“We need more skilled trades. It plays a big factor on how many houses you can build in the area for quality work,” he said.
The housing demand is also being felt in the home rental sector. Toner said this is obvious for home buyers who decide to rent a house or apartment, while waiting for a new home to be built. She says the rental market is also in a squeeze. Toner says there are government programs available for low-income housing and she believes it would be helpful for the North ‘to bump it up” to include medium income families.

TDH stays anonymous for hospital report card

Timmins and District Hospital (TDH) has chosen not to reveal itself on the Fraser Institutes annual hospital report card that compares patient care.
TDH had previously been reported in the annual listing and had shown progressively better “scores” when compared to other hospitals in Ontario.
Nadeem Esmail, the Director of Health System Performance Studies for the institute who authored the report, told The Timmins Times that on the Hospital Mortality Index for 2002-03, the Timmins hospital was ranked 22nd in Ontario.
Then in 2003-04 it was ranked 14th. In 2004-05, TDH ranked as eighth in the province. When asked to comment on the Timmins figures, Esmail said ”there’s nothing wrong with them.”
“You can always do better than eighth, you can always do better than 22nd but its not horrible,”he said.
Esmail says TDH was indeed rated for the past year, but chose to stay anonymous.
“I think what’s really interesting is that Timmins was participating and this year they have opted not to have their name published beside their performance result.”
Esmail said he could not comment on why TDH, or the majority of Ontario hospitals for that matter, chose not to go public with their standings.
“Well you know I can’t speak to their motivation. They have simply decided to not have their hospital name published alongside their result, unlike the 29 hospitals in Ontario who should be applauded for stepping up and embracing the values of accountability and transparency by having their names published alongside their performance result,” he said.
“So for 29 hospitals it really is wonderful for the patients of those hospitals and the residents in those areas that they can see the performance of their hospitals,” he said.
“For everyone else going to the other 107 hospitals, unfortunately this cone of silence has descended,” he added.
Timmins and District Hospital was offered the opportunity to provide a comment on this story. Hospital administrator Esko Vainio was out of town and unavailable for comment this week.
In October TDH released the results of a Patient Satisfaction Survey. It revealed that between April 2005 and March 2006, the hospital was awarded “top marks” and was rated above average.

Tree Planting concerns continue

Some members of the Timmins LCC (Local Citizens’ Committee) continue to express concern about the decrease in forest regeneration and tree planting for managed forests in the Timmins area. The LCC is a public committee whose job is to represent the concerns of the public and stakeholders when it comes to managing crown forests.
The LCC discussed the tree planting issue at it’s regular meeting Wednesday night where concern was voiced about a Timmins Times news story published on February 15. That story revealed worries expressed by LCC members that no active tree planting was planned for 2009 for the Romeo Malette Forest and the Nighthawk Forest, which are managed by Tembec and AbitibiBowater respectively.
The concern was sufficient enough that the LCC sent a formal letter to Tembec and AbitibiBowater on Feb.1 stating “it has been reported that no tree seedlings are being grown for spring 2009. What is the reason behind this decision?”
Both companies responded in writing that the primary reason to stop tree planting in 2009 is that harvest levels, woodcutting, is far below normal owing to the economic downturn in the forest industry.
AbitibiBowater further indicated that as more of the trees are cut, then more areas will be re-planted. Tembec further indicated that some cutover areas will “regenerate naturally” while other areas “are scheduled for jackpine aerial seeding in 2009”
There appears to be a difference of opinion between some LCC members and the forestry companies about what constitutes appropriate forest regeneration.
A letter expressing the LCC’s formal concern is being circulated among all its members who will determine the precise text of the letter.
A vote will be held to determine whether enough members are sufficiently concerned to officially present the letter to the Ministry of Natural Resources.
The money for forest regeneration comes from the stumpage fees the companies pay for each tree that is cut. It is put into a forest renewal trust fund, then doled out for forest regeneration by the companies.
The letter says it’s time for Ontario to re-invest more funding in the silviculture side of forestry to rebuild Ontario’s crown forests.
The LCC draft letter also suggests that the implementation of the forest regeneration money be taken out of the hands of the forestry companies and be handed off to a third party.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

'Stay out of our DAM business'

The Wabun Tribal Council has told Timmins city council that business discussions on the future of the proposed High Falls hydro-electric development are taking place between the First Nations and the developer, and city council’s comments or concerns are not welcome in those discussions.
Shawn Batisse, left,executive director of the tribal council, explained to city council this week that the Mattagami First Nation and the Matachewan First Nation are both in favour of the project because it will create economic development on their reserves and employment opportunities for the people living there.
Woods Power Generation of Larder River, near Englehart, has a proposal on file to create a hydro dam on the Grassy River, about 25 kilometres south of downtown Timmins that would effectively destroy the scenic High Falls area. High Falls is within the boundaries of the City of Timmins.
The Grassy River watershed is in an area shared by the Matachewan and Mattagami First Nations, which are part of the traditional Treaty No. 9 area, which Batisse says “covers two thirds of the province of Ontario.”
Although Timmins city council has not formally taken a stand on the project, the majority of city councillors have spoken out against any plan to destroy High Falls.
At a public meeting held in Timmins on Feb. 6 hundreds of Timmins residents spoke out against the plan to create the new hydro development on the Grassy.
Batisse told council that the Ontario government decided to open up the development process for the Northern Ontario rivers in November of 2004. One of the key components was that First Nations would be involved in any decision.
Councillor John Curley asked Batisse if he wouldn’t be in favour of seeking upgrades on existing hydro dams instead of supporting the creation of a new dam.
Batisse told Curley that the First Nations are already negotiating with Ontario Power Generation(OPG) for financial “redress” for the use of the rivers, as well as economic benefits for the redevelopment of any existing OPG sites. But Batisse says he didn’t see what one issue has to do with the other.
“As some of you may know, First Nations are largely dependent on government hand-outs,” Batisse told council. He said a new hydro dam could generate $1 million to $2 million a year for the First Nations.
“This is a way to increase revenue for the First Nations to use for education, housing, community infrastructure, business development, all kinds of things,” he said.
Coun. Mike Doody asked Batisse if he found it surprising that white people, who have nothing to gain financially, want to save and preserve the scenic part of the river that has been part of the traditional First Nations territory.
Batisse admitted to Doody that the Aboriginal people do appreciate the value of nature but there’s has to be a consideration for community development.
Coun. Denis Saudino suggested that Timmins with 50,000 people in the area should have more of a say in the discussions. Saudino said more parties should be involved in the discussions and everyone should be willing to adjust.
“If you want to talk about adjusting, I mean we’ve been adjusting for over a hundred years and continue to do so,” Batisse responded sharply.
Batisse says economic development is sorely needed because the Mattagami Reserve has no significant tax base.
“My community is six square miles. What do you want me to do on that?” he asked.
Batisse also told council there are economic spinoffs for Timmins since the dam construction project would be valued in the “15 to 20 million dollar range”, and that part of the money for materials and labour would be spent in Timmins.
“If this site bears out to be a good site economically and environmentally for us, for our communities, and we find a healthy balance for our communities, then we’ll proceed with it,” he said.
Batisse says the discussions on the future of the hydro-electric project will involve the developer and the First Nations.
“Beyond that we’re not willing to negotiate with a third party” Batisse added.

Year round car shelters for Timmins?

City council is planning to change the Timmins zoning bylaw to allow for portable car shelters to be set up on residential properties all year round.
Because the issue has stirred up controversy for and against the shelters, council has passed first and second reading of the bylaw. The third and final reading could take place in two weeks time depending on public feedback.
Council debated the issue at a committee of the whole meeting Monday on the recommendation of the planning department, which has received comments for and against the shelters.
Because car shelters are considered tents under the Ontario Building Code, building permits are not required, but the shelters are still regulated by the zoning bylaw.
Up until now, the shelters had been allowed as temporary winter shelters for car owners, between October 1 and April 30. This allowance in the bylaw occurred in 1987.
The shelters must not extend beyond any property line and must be securely anchored to the ground.
What has happened in Timmins in recent years is that residents throughout the city have erected portable shelters and have left them up year round, in contravention of the bylaw. Also, shelters are now made in various sizes to accommodate boats, snowmobiles, ATVs and lawn tractors.
Bylaw officers who ordered residents to remove the shelters in the summer months, have faced numerous complaints. Just as numerous were the complaints from neighbors who feel such shelters are unsightly, unsafe and cheap-looking.
Council has decided to move to the middle ground. Shelters will be allowed year round provided they are placed in the back yard during the summer months.
There may be exceptions to the rule, to allow for shelters to be placed in the front area, or a sideyard, on a year round basis. This will require permission from the city’s Committee of Adjustment. It costs $350 to seek permission. Despite the cost, there is no guarantee the committee will grant permission. City Clerk Jack Watson told council that all applications to the Committee of Adjustment require that the neighbors have to be notified.
If the neighbors have any concerns about the car shelter, Watson says “that will weigh heavily” on the decision made by the committee. Watson says the neighbors will decide what the neighborhood looks like.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Cops crackdown on drugs in Timmins

Timmins Police and the OPP drug units continue to crack down on the illicit drug trade in the city. Both agencies this week showed off the results of recent arrests with a boardroom table covered with cash,drugs and illegal weapons.
It was all gathered from a series of recent arrests involving 12 Timmins residents and one from Iroquois Falls. The illegal weapons included a .45 calibre Glock handgun and a small tazer-like device that delivers high voltage electric shocks. Search warrants were served on several city homes between January 2 and February 15.
Timmins Police drug unit sergeant Richard Blanchette says the total haul by police amounted to more than $100,000 in cash, cocaine, marijuana and pills such as Oxycontin and Ecstacy.
Blanchette says the drug problem in Timmins is no worse than any other city, but said there is a dedicated effort to cracking down on traffickers and users.
“Drugs are there, they are in every community,” said Blanchette. “They’re not isolated to Timmins that’s for sure. But we certainly have a dedicated drug unit and we’re working in cooperation with the Ontario Provincial Police and together we get results and it is good police work.”
Police Chief Richard Laperriere said he was happy with the operation and says the success is owed chiefly to the partnership with the OPP.
“We’ve made it very clear from the onset that we wanted to be very aggressive in regards to illicit drugs and we’ve made that commitment and we’ve had the discussions with the Ontario provincial police and we’re commited to moving in that direction,” said the chief.
“Our drug section and their drug section are in fact working together to put a dent in illicit drugs,” he added.
He admitted the other concern was the fact that police recovered weapons. Laperriere said while he was glad to see the weapons off the street, he wasn’t pleased they were out there in the first place.
Among those facing a litany of possession, trafficking and weapons charges are David Daigle, 24; Mario Trudel, 32; Kyle Robertson, 22; Mario Beaulieu, 31; Carole Beaulieu, 36; Clinton Cool, 34; Alexandre Davidson, 32; Patrick Racine, 24; James Peart, 41; Scott Brunette, 27; Shanon Roy, 20; all of Timmins; and Andre Romain, 53, of Iroquois Falls.

Mall Evacuated

Fire at the mall. The 101 Mall in downtown Timmins was evacuated for several hours Thursday after an electrical fire occurred in a transformer located in the basement garage level of the building. Firefighters from Timmins and Schumacher responded to the call shortly after ten oclock in the morning. Firefighters used dry-chemical extinguishers to douse the fire. Among other disruptions, provincial court was interrupted and several prisoners in the court holding cells had to be removed from the building. Hydro One was called to investigate the problem and power to the mall was out for several hours. Power was restored by mid-afternoon. ABOVE: Many of the evacuated mall workers and clients gathered in front of St. Anthony’s cathedral. BELOW: Several court workers and lawyers gathered by the Mall doors on Pine Street.

Lake Shore Gold is optimistic

Gold continues to be the dominating news story in Timmins this year as yet another gold producer is ready to begin producing more of the precious metal that saw the discovery of this community some 100 years ago.
Tony Makuch, the newly appointed CEO of Lake Shore Gold, says there are new beginnings in the century-old Porcupine mining camp. He was speaking to a Chamber of Commerce business luncheon Thursday.
Makuch admitted he was more than enthusiastic for the Timmins West property located on Highway 101 west, just before the Highway 144 turnoff.

“The Timmins West property really has the potential to be one of the next great gold mines coming out of Timmins and depending on how much you want to dream of where it can be, it can become as big as some of the current gold mines,” Makuch told the lunch crowd at Cedar Meadows.
“In terms of current reserves, we have 1.2 million ounces of gold at Timmins West,” said Makuch, adding it was just based on the drill holes from surface.
“In this industry, and in mining in Northern Ontario, this is really, as far as I’m concerned, it’s like having a big leap ahead of everybody else,” he said.
He said the company had been able to identify a substantial amount of gold reserves based on the surface drilling alone.
“Who knows what we’re going to find once we go underground,” he added.
“He added that the plan is to bring the Timmins West mine into production by the end of 2009 but if factors are more favorable, it might even be possible to have that mine in operation by the end of this year.
In response to a question from the audience Makuch said there would be truck traffic from the new mine in the West End to the Bell Creek Mill located at the end of Florence Avenue in Porcupine. He said the initial plan is to mill 300 tonnes per day at Bell Creek, hauling the ore in 40-tonne trucks, which would work out to seven or eight truckloads a day.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Timmins gets $1 Million for mining exploration

Ontario’s Ministry of Northern Development and Mines (MNDM) has announced a $1 million investment in the Timmins-based Discover Abitibi mining exploration project.
The announcement was made Monday at the annual convention of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada, in Toronto.
The announcement is the province’s share of a $3 million venture involving Timmins, the province, and private industry. The federal government is also expected to contribute to the venture since it has done so previously.
Mines minister Michael Gravelle made the announcement during a live webcast from the City of Timmins booth at the convention.
Gravelle praised Timmins Economic Development Corporation (TEDC) for setting up the Discover Abitibi initiative to promote more exploration for new mines.
“We share our partner’s enthusiasm with the potential of the Abitibi Greenstone Belt in Northeastern Ontario,” Gravelle said.
“While the Abitibi Greenstone Belt is famous for having produced the prolific Kirkland Lake and Timmins mining camps, we know there are some geo-science knowledge gaps that have discouraged mineral exploration.
“Therefore, today, I am pleased to announce that the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation will providing funding of one million dollars to assist the Discover Abitibi initiative in helping to fill those knowledge gaps,” he added.
Timmins mayor Tom Laughren commented that the money would be well spent since Timmins is the central mining community in the region.
“On behalf of the citizens we would like to thank the minister for his generous donation. We very much appreciate that,” said Laughren
“I too would like to say this is the fourth time that I meet the minister. It’s the second time I meet when he’s giving money to Timmins, so if I can keep that batting average of .500 I think we’re going to be doing pretty well.”
“With this initiative since it first started in 2002 there’s been 26 thousand claims that have been staked. That’s huge,” the mayor told the news conference. “Before 2002, we had 50 companies doing some type of mining type work in the Timmins region. We’re now up well above 90 companies, closer to one hundred.”
“We’ve got federal, provincial and industry partners in this. So that’s a win-win-win,” said the mayor.

Discover Abitibi Project Manager Robert Calhoun told The Timmins Times that the money will be spent primarily on aerial surveys over a wider region of Northeastern Ontario which will give geologists and other geo-science professionals a better idea of where to look for new mines.
“There are new technologies which are being developed all the time. Some of these airborne surveys are actually able to look much deeper than they used to be able to, so we’re able to fill the geology gap,” said Calhoun.
“A lot of the greenstone belts are covered by significant overburden so we don’t get to see a lot of the rock before we start diamond drilling.These airborne surveys will give us a better indication of what rock types are there,” he added.
“The last time we did the survey we pretty much went in the Timmins to Kirkland Lake corridor.
Now we are moving out into the hinterland. We’re going out to the Burntbush area near Cochrane. The next one will be in the Detour area and then we are moving down south with another airborne in Shiningtree. And then we’re going to do regional surveys which cover the whole region and some geology surveys which cover Matachewan and Kirkland Lake,” said Calhoun.
“The spinoff for the City of Timmins is basically the same as it always is. It’s the same as it is for the De Beers project. De Beers has made Timmins their jump off point for the Victor project. Timmins is their regional office. And if we have a mining company come in to the area, Timmins is the obvious place to put your office.”
Cheryl St. Amour, TEDC’s director of Business Development also welcomed the news.
“With the information gathered from Discover Abitibi our region, and it’s companies are now prepared for this exciting time in mining. NOHFC support of this phase of the project will ensure than the one hundred years of mining activity will lead to act least a hundred more.”

Monday, March 3, 2008

Porcupine Music Festival winners for 2008

Student flautist Danièle Jones is the 2008 winner of the Porcupine Music Festival Rose Bowl, which signifies the highest achievement in the festival. Jones was presented with the honour at Sunday’s final concert which wrapped up the 12 day festival. Jones was previously named as the best instrumentalist performer at the 2007 festival.
Other important winners this year included, from left, best pianist Brian Scott, best vocalist Zacharie Fogal, best strings (fiddle) Adrianna Ciccone and overall best performer Danièle Jones. The awards were presented Sunday at the final concert of the 68th annual Porcupine Music Festival.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Tims and a Toyota

Alex Robichaud of Timmins, left, enjoyed his cup of coffee and lot more than he expected Friday. Robichaud, who had given up coffee for Lent, had a craving for a cup of coffee when he went to Timmins Horton’s on Riverside Drive. He ordered a medium de-caf, figuring it wouldn’t really be breaking his Lenten vow. As he enjoyed his coffee with a friend, he decided to roll up the rim and to his surpise, he discovered he had won a Toyota Matrix. Robichaud dropped over to James Toyota to check out the new vehicle along with dealership owner James Bazuik, right.