Saturday, May 31, 2008

Bizarre crash on Riverside

Timmins police have charged one male person with dangerous driving, a Criminal Code offence, as the result of a bizarre auto crash on Riverside Drive early this evening. Police responded to numerous 9-1-1 calls shortly after 6:00 p.m. with reports a vehicle that was in a collision at the Wal Mart parking lot and then raced eastbound along Riverside Drive. Witnesses said the vehicle was swerving from lane to lane. The vehicle came to a stop at the Shirley Street intersection when it became wedged between two vehicles stopped at the red light. At least two persons were injured. Police were called and they had to wrestle a male from the car and into custody. Timmins firefighters were called to the scene along with paramedics to tend to injured motorists. The incident is still under investigation by Timmins Police Service.

Cleaning up Timmins.

Dozens of Timmins residents took part in the city wide clean up today, as part of the TimminsGetClean campaign in support of the Give For The Health Of It campaign for the Timmins and District Hospital. Aside from cleaning litter from the streets and sidewalks, the clean-up crews found some unusual items such a the stop sign held by Marty Pilkington and the parking ticket, held by Denis Durocher.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Timmins fire believed suspicious

Timmins Police Forensics unit was at the scene of the Agonquin Boulevard fire this morning, to collect whatever evidence is available that might give clues to the origin of Thursday evening's fire. Firefighters were also on the scene to aid in the investigation and to ensure there are no flare ups in the three-storey building.

Black Bears in Timmins are a people problem...

The local committee responsible for managing the black bear situation in Timmins told the media yesterday there is a “people problem” in Timmins, not a black bear problem.
The comments came while the committee was outlining its plans for the 2008 “to promote black bear awareness, education and conflict prevention” in Timmins.
Much of the program is based on the Ministry of Natural Resources Bear Wise program, an initiative launched in 2004 in response to growing complaints about nuisance bears.
The Times asked if this meant that the MNR regarded the bear situation as “a problem” since it had undertaken so many education and prevention procedures in recent years.
“We have a people problem,” said committee spokesman Ben Legouffe, an information officer with the MNR.
“Is this a bear problem or a people problem? If you educate the people, you won’t have a bear problem,” Legouffe added.
“We do live in bear country. You have to respect that and educate the people and say this is what you should do. If you don’t do it, it could happen you’re going to have a bear visit you.”
This includes things such as cleaning your backyard barbecue right after you use it, picking up the fruit that falls from fruit trees and not putting pet food outside.
This is the fifth year for the continuing Bear Wise program in Timmins and Legouffe says he has seen progress. He says he believes more and more residents are into the idea that it’s a worthwhile program.
“There’s the three types of people. There’s some that get on to the program. They really want it. Others take it with a grain of salt and you have a small minority, their answer is to shoot all the bears. You have those three types of people, but I think the first group is growing,” said Legouffe.
He added that he has 35 years of experience with the MNR and he disputed the notion that the black bear situation got worse after 1999 when the spring bear hunt was cancelled.
“I remember the 70s and the 80s where the COs (conservation officers) were run off their feet 24 hours a day, bringing those bears back into the bush, or shooting them. We had bad years. We had bad berry crops,” he said.
Legouffe added that Timmins has grown, in area, in recent years and is stretched out in a linear fashion following Highway 101, and is completely surrounded by forest.
“We say we love it in the north, we’re with the wildlife, living in the forest and isn’t it great. Well, there is a price for that. And the price is we have to respect the animals and the birds and what-have-you that live with us. And if we don’t take that attitude, well yeah we won’t have this great North to enjoy anymore because it won’t be there.” Legouffe said.
As part of the education program the MNR will be handing out jingle-style “bear bells” to youngsters.
Legouffe also mentioned that Timmins Police will have a ride-along program with MNR staff and city bylaw officers to ensure that city residents do not put their weekly garbage out to the curbside the night before garbage day.
“We’re gonna get a little more aggressive on that,” Legouffe added.,
City officials did admit that garbage may be put out to the curb after 8:00 p.m., the night before garbage pickup day, provided the garbage is in a proper garbage bin with a snap lock top.

Timmins Regional Economic Outlook

The economic outlook conference held in Timmins this week was told that in order for the major local industries to survive, one of the things urgently needed is more skilled workers while one of the things they don’t need is the new Endangered Species Act.
The Timmins Regional Economic Outlook conference, hosted by the Timmins Chamber of Commerce, featured two separate panels, one to represent the faltering forestry industry, the other to represent the thriving mining industry. In both cases, representatives said there is a dire need for skilled trades and more young people to stay in Timmins.
Speakers with the forestry panel included Sue Millson, of Millson Forestry products, which provides seedlings and tree planting services, among others. She said she was not optimistic for the current state of the industry.
“The only word I can use is grim,” she said.
She added there is hope in change, and that industries such as hers have to be open and flexible to finding new products and new markets. She also expressed concern about the new Endangered Species Act creating more red tape at the provincial level.
John Kapel Jr. of Little John Enterprises was optimistic in his outlook because he said his company has found the secret to survival is “value added”, saying his company has been creating value added wood products for 29 years. He told the conference he is worried though about having enough wood supply and expressed frustration at seeing truckloads of Ontario wood, Timmins wood, being shipped off to mills in Quebec. He said it was imperative for government to address that issue because jobs are being lost.
Entrepreneur Kevin Mulligan, who created Woodchuckers Manufacturing in the past year, also expressed concern over finding a long term supply of wood since it could someday affect his ability to carry on business and thrive in Timmins.
On the mining side of the table, Chris Cormier, the manager of Goldcorp Porcupine Gold Mines, said Timmins is in danger of losing a very important resource - - people. Cormier said it was important for Timmins to promote and market itself because the Sudbury mining industry “is draining people out of Timmins”. He said challenge will be felt especially hard in the next ten years as hundreds of skilled workers of the baby-boom generation, take retirement.
There was also a strong positive note presented by business leader J.P Legault of Panels and Pipes. Inc. He told the conference that he has been in touch with business leaders and even investment bankers who predict Timmins is a sure bet for growth and prosperity in the coming years. Legault, who witnessed much of the growth in Alberta’s oil boom, said Timmins is showing all the same growth signs as Fort MacMurray.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Algonquin Blvd. Fire... first news photos.

Fire broke out in an empty three story apartment house just over one hour ago, at about 6:15 p.m. on Algonquin Boulevard east in Timmins. The Timmins Times was first on the scene moments after the first firefighters arrived. The building, located on the south side of Algonquin between Birch and Maple, was empty. Four fire departments, Timmins, Schumacher, Mountjoy and South Porcupine have responded to the call.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Liberty Mines exec named in lawsuit

A vice president of Liberty Mines is being sued for defamation over comments about a Timmins mining property, allegedly posted on the Internet.
The comments involve a property owned by Inspiration Mining Corporation, located close to one of the Liberty Mines properties in Timmins.
Liberty has three mining properties in the city, all in Shaw Township in the city’s southeast corner; the Redstone Mine, the McWatters Mine and the Hart deposit. Inspiration Mining of Toronto currently owns the former Langmuir Mine property and is in the midst of a vigorous exploration-drilling program in Langmuir Township, which is immediately southeast of Shaw Township
According to papers filed in court, the disparaging comments posted by a Liberty executive were enough to send value of Inspiration stock plummeting by more than 50 per cent last winter.
The claims were made in a $12-million suit filed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Toronto on April 25. The lawsuit named several individuals who posted anonymous comments and discussions on an stock investor web site. The company has also obtained a court order to force the website to reveal the nicknames used by those who posted information and contributed to the discussion of the Timmins properties.
According to the papers filed, the discussions were posted in November, in reaction to a report from Inspiration about drilling results from exploration work on its Langmuir project in Timmins.
According to a Bloomberg News report, the whole issue could threaten a potential partnership deal between Liberty and Inspiration. In a news release however, Inspiration says it has no discussions with anyone else to form any partnerships.
“ Inspiration is not involved in any discussions or negotiations pertaining to a joint venture with any third party. With respect to the lawsuit, Inspiration has commenced legal proceedings against several individuals with respect to comments made by such individuals on an electronic bulletin board. Inspiration decided to commence legal proceedings in order to protect shareholder value and prevent the dissemination of information that was made solely to harm the reputation of the Company and its Langmuir property and it's CEO,” said the Inspiration news release.
Bloomberg reports that it was told the Liberty executive has apologized for his comments, within his own company. It also reports that Liberty CEO and president Gary Nash is confident the issue can be settled.

Future Shop job fair in July

Future Shop says it plans to open it’s new Timmins store by the end of September. The company also says it plans to hold a job fair in mid-summer.
The big-box electronics and home appliances retailer is currently under construction at the northeast corner of Riverside Drive and Shirley Street.
Larry Richardson, Future Shop’s district manager for Northeastern Ontario, says the company will be hiring 50 to 60 employees, with roughly an even split between fulltime and part-time.
“We expect to have our hiring fair in mid-July. We’re looking for that venue right now,” he said.
Richardson says although each store has a signature look on the outside, the inside of each store has a unique layout favourable to each market.
He says the Timmins store will include a“home theatre vignette” to show off some of the best in home entertainment consumer items. Another feature he says will be a vignette to display larger home appliances such as fridges, stoves, washers and dryers.
He adds that aside from market surveys, he has personally visited other large retailers in the Timmins to get a sense of how strong the market is.
Richardson says he was impressed with the level of enterprise he saw in Timmins.
He says is just as impressed with the location of the new store which he says is a blue-chip intersection that Future Shop will share with Timmins Garage, Tim Horton’s, Timmins Square and Montana’s Restaurant.
There are more than 130 Future Shop locations across Canada.

Rocky roads cause rocky debate at Timmins city hall

The debate was as bumpy as some local potholes, but Timmins city council has approved a plan for which roads are scheduled for major repairs this year.
Not all councillors voted for the new roads program. Ward Three councillor Bill Gvozdanovic, noting that his Schumacher-area ward was largely ignored, said he could not vote in favour.
There is roughly $4.5 million available for road repairs. Originally the city had only $3.3 million. The province has come through with a one-time grant of 1.1 million and there is $225,000 for connecting link repairs for areas where city roads connect with provincial highways.
Gvozdanovic wondered why his ward was being left out, even after the extra money was provided by Queen’s Park.
“For two years we got nothing in the roads program, then all of a sudden we get an extra 1.1 million dollars and still nothing! What am I supposed to tell the people in Ward Three?” said Gvozdanovic spreading his arms in exasperation.
Gvozdanovic said it has been two years with the current council and one year with the previous council that his ward has been ignored.
“So what you’re telling me is you get 1.1 million dollars all of a sudden Shirley Street gets 75 thousand dollars, Government Road north, another 75 thousand dollars, Sandy Falls Road another 75 thousand dollars,” he asked. “If we are, you know, going with this rural roads strategy, why are we extending all the way out into those areas,” Gvozdanovic asked.
“It’s terrible as far as I am concerned. What I am supposed to do … just sit here and say’yeah it’s a good idea’.”
One reason for the disappointment was that work has been postponed on Vipond Road. It was explained that because new water lines and a booster station are being installed, no work is planned for Vipond until the city knows exactly where the water lines will be installed.
“I’m talking about the residents of ward three getting tax increase after tax increase every year and nothing. Nothing in the roads program. Nothing!
Mayor Tom Laughren said he was sympathetic, but advised Gvozdanovic “that over and above your disappointment, there is work going on in that ward.” He mentioned the improvements to the highway crossing, the new water booster station and new water mains. Laughren also advised that the road repair priorities are decided by the engineering staff, not by politics.
Councillor Mike Doody said much of the blame for the lack of road repair money lies at the feet of the federal government, which could have allocated money for roads instead of deciding to drop the GST by one per cent. Doody said the one per cent would have created billions of dollars for road work.
“They didn’t do it, and they let us down,” said Doody, adding that fortunately for the city, the provincial government “stepped up to the plate” and granted an extra $1.1 million to Timmins.
Among the priorities there will be major road repairs to MacLean Drive from Victoria to Laforest for $800,000; to Airport Road from Theriault to Lafleur bridge for $600,000; repairs to several sections of the Kamiskotia highway for $700,000; completing the surface treatment of Highway 610 between Hoyle and Connaught for $250,000; and road repairs to Dalton Road for $100,000. The city has also identified dozens of other smaller road projects and intersections throughout the city where work will be done.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Timmins police chief honoured by Governor General

For the first time, a Timmins Chief of Police has received the distinct honour of the Order of Merit by the Governor General.
Chief Constable Richard Laperriere of the Timmins Police Service snapped to attention at Rideau Hall in Ottawa at 11:00 a.m. yesterday in front of Her Excellency, the Right Honourable Michaelle Jean, Governor General of Canada.

Laperriere was invested into the Order of Merit of the Police Forces along with other police officers from across Canada.
Laperriere was notified of the honour earlier this month, but kept it quiet. The information was released this week Deputy Police Chief Des Walsh.
“The Order Of Merit Of The Police Forces honours a career of exceptional service or distinctive merit displayed by the men and women of Canadian Police Services and recognizes their commitment to our country,” Walsh stated in a news release.
“The primary focus is on exceptional merit, contributions to policing, and community development.”
Established in October 2000, the Order of Merit of the Police Forces is a fellowship of honour based on the highest qualities of citizenship, service to Canada, to the police community and to humanity at large. There are three levels which reflect long-term outstanding service with varying degrees of responsibility: Commander, Officer and Member.
The governor general presented Chief Laperriere with his honour as a “Member” of the Order Of Merit during the ceremony.
Chief Laperriere commenced his career with the Timmins Police Service in January of 1978. Earlier this year he received an Exemplary Service award from the Governor General upon completion of thirty years of service.
“All of our staff are quite proud of the achievements of Chief Laperriere and his dedication to our organization”, said Walsh.
“His commitment to forging partnerships between the police service and the community is outstanding. This investiture is an exceptional honour not only for Chief Laperriere, but for the Timmins Police Service as a whole.”

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

It's Timmins. It's Spring. Bears are back!

One of the first nuisance black bear calls of the season tied up at least six Timmins Police officers for more than hour this morning. The call occurred in the residential area near Rae Street South and Kent Avenue.Officers were on the scene at approximately 8:00 a.m. when a bear was sighted sniffing around a backyard shed. Police officers, concerned about the large number of children in the area waiting for school buses, cornered the animal and forced it up a tree. At one point around 8:35 a.m., when the bear began moving down the tree, and with children still in the area, an officer fired at the animal. The animal, suffered a non-lethal injury, climbed back up into the cover of the branches. Just before 9:00 a.m. Ministry of Natural Resources technicians arrived. They prepared tranquilizer shots. Over a period of about 30 minutes, two tranquilizer shots were fired into the bear, which then slowly moved down the tree to the ground, where another tranquilizer shot was fired.
The MNR says the bear will be marked with an ear-tag and be relocated away from the city.

Lake Shore Gold predicts 200,000 ounces per year

Lake Shore Gold, the company developing the new mine in the city’s west end, says it expects to be producing 200,000 ounces of gold by 2011.
That would put it in league with all the local gold production for Goldcorp Porcupine Gold Mines (PGM), the city’s largest gold producer at the moment. Goldcorp’s operation summary shows 2007 year-end gold production for the Porcupine operations at 158,400 ounces. In a project update statement released Tuesday, Lake Shore says it envisions first ore deliveries to occur early in 2009 from the Timmins West mine currently being built in Bristol Township, near Highway 101 just east of the Highway 144 turnoff.
Currently the Timmins West site is vigorous with activity. A new hydroelectric substation has been installed, a shaft is being sunk, a headframe is being built and several surface buildings are under construction.
There will be no mill at the site. The ore from the mine is to be trucked along Highway 101 to the site of the old Bell Creek mine and mill in Porcupine.
Refurbishing of the Bell Creek mill is slated for this year, initially to handle 800 tonnes per day of ore, and then eventually increased to 1,500 tonnes per day, the statement says.
"Lake Shore Gold is on track with its goal to become Canada's next intermediate gold producer at a time when the outlook for gold prices remains highly favourable,” says company president and CEO Tony Makuch, in the news release.
“We have an excellent portfolio of properties, with 1.2 million ounces of probable reserves (uncut) already having been identified at our Timmins West property,… and very encouraging prospects for identifying additional reserves both at Timmins West and at a number of our other properties,” he continued.
The other properties include the old Bell Creek Mine, and the Vogel property, located between Bell Creek and Goldcorp’s lucrative Hoyle Pond property.
"While much work remains, we are targeting solid production growth, starting with an estimated 30,000 ounces of gold in 2009 from Timmins West. Production could then grow to just over 100,000 ounces in 2010 as we increase output at Timmins West and begin producing from the Vogel ramp. In 2011, the Company anticipates that production could reach up to 200,000 ounces reflecting increased production from Timmins West and the Vogel ramp and initial output from the Bell Creek mine,” Makuch predicted.

Timmins to study Grassy River

While the City of Timmins has not yet passed a formal resolution on the issue of a new hydro dam on the Grassy River, the city’s engineer is now in the process of preparing a due diligence report on how such a project would affect Timmins.
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 remove the scenic High Falls area. The project is being developed with the cooperation of the Mattagami and Matachewan First Nations, since the river falls within the traditional territory of Treaty Nine.
The project is being opposed by scores of conservationists throughout the Timmins area who believe the High Falls stretch of the river should be protected from development.
Before the project reaches the construction phase, it must undergo an environmental assessment which measure the impact the project will have.
City engineer Luc Duval says he has been instructed to find out how the project may affect water flows and levels on the Mattagami River as it passes through Timmins. Duval says the concern is that the water flow on the Grassy River may affect the Mattagami River.
“I understand we do regulate water levels and the MNR is involved. I will be talking to MRCA (Mattagami Region Conservation Authority) and to OPG (Ontario Power Generation). My question will be specifically related to the filtration plant so if there is a new player in the game does it have an impact to the water levels, for one thing,” Duval told The Times
“I don’t know if that operation would create a different chemistry of water – sometimes there are turbidity issues,” he added.
Duval added it doesn’t mean the city administration is taking sides on the controversial issue.
“I don’t think it’s to take a pro or con approach to this. It is just to recognize the actual facts of having another generating station along that stretch of river,” he said.
“For me on the technical side, it will be a due diligence to recognize impacts. And like with any project if you know the impacts, oftentimes there are ways of mitigating them by knowing them early on in the game.” Duval said.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Saudino wants Timmins to act now

At least one city councillor wants to push the city’s opposition to a new hydro dam on the Grassy River before the Environmental Assessment process begins.
There is also the possibility that Timmins may officially oppose that project at the environmental assessment level.
Councillor Denis Saudino said this week he wants the city to take a formal stand on the creation of a new hydro dam on the Grassy River. Saudino is on record as being against the project.
Saudino’s comments were made Monday night as the Friends of the Mattagami group revealed it had scored a minor victory in saving Island Falls from destruction by a hydro-electric development just south of Smooth Rock Falls.
Saudino said he was prompted by that success to push for more pro-active action by Timmins city council. He wants a resolution of support for preserving the High Falls portion of the Grassy River.
The High Falls project is yet another proposed hydro-electric project in the region, this one located entirely within in the boundaries of the City of Timmins. There is a proposal in the works by Woods Power Generation of Larder River, near Englehart, to create a new dam.
“I know for a fact that although we discussed it around this table on numerous occasions, no resolution came back,” Saudino said, expressing confidence that the majority of city councillors are on record as opposing the High Falls project.
At Monday’s meeting Saudino alluded to the fact that council had previously been told to “mind it’s own business.” He was referring to the March 10 meeting of council where Shawn Batisse of the Wabun Tribal Council advised city council that the Mattagami and Matchewan First Nations were negotiating on the Grassy River hydro project and had no intention of discussing the matter with the City of Timmins.
“It does affect a couple of companies that do business vis-à-vis to promote tourism. So I think it is our business to comment,” said Saudino.
“It has a real strong potential for an economic generator in terms of tourism, and if we allowed it to be damned up, were just pushing part of that economic development outside of the boundaries of our city.”
Mayor Tom Laughren told Saudino that the Environmental Assessment (EA) phase of the Grassy River project is not yet in the works, but soon will be.
“I think when the EA process starts, that will be an opportune time for council to act,” said the mayor.
The mayor also hinted at the possibility that Timmins will take a stand on the project in the Environmental Assessment phase because a dam on the Grassy River could have an effect on Peterlong Lake and the level of the Mattagami River, which would impact Timmins.
Laughren said the issue is currently being reviewed by city engineer Luc Duval.

Timmins' response worked for Foleyet

Emergency planners and public health officials have given a solid thumbs up to the way the Foleyet emergency was handled one week ago today.
Had the incident been more serious, the response by the personnel from Timmins would have “prevented a catastrophy”, especially if the train continued southbound.
That’s the conclusion of a two-hour debriefing exercise held at the Timmins Police community boardroom Thursday to examine how well the various emergency services responded.
An eastbound VIA Rail passenger train was stopped and quarantined at the Foleyet train station last Friday morning when it was learned that a woman passenger had died aboard that train.
The decision to isolate the train came when it was suspected the woman may have died of an infectious disease and that other passengers on the train may have been in danger as well. As it turned out, a 43-year old woman from South Africa died of an embolism and no other passengers were in danger.
The incident prompted a massive response in terms of police, paramedics, firefighters, Hazmat teams and public health officials rushing to the scene from Foleyet, Chapleau, Timmins, Sudbury and Toronto.
If there was one downside to the event, it was the obvious need “to improve and enhance communications” according to Steve Trinier, the Emergency Medical Services Director for the Cochrane District Social Services Administration Board(CDSSAB).
“I think the reality is that certainly in rural and remote areas, the communications systems aren’t there,” Trinier told The Timmins Times.
“There are not phones behind every tree.”
Trinier said his paramedics were in constant communications with each other and their Timmins base, but not everyone else was in the loop.
“So certainly things like providing a number of satellite phones in remote areas in anticipation of those sorts of events will certainly aid the process. He added it may be worthwhile to consider having a common radio frequency for all Northern Ontario police, fire and paramedic services.
Lynn Leggatt, the Manager of Infectious Diseases and Clinical Services at the Porcupine Health Unit said she was pleased with the response from public health.
“We felt very prepared when we got to the scene,” she said adding that because there was planning for a flu pandemic, the health unit had boxes and bins full of medical supplies ready to go.
“We just basically grabbed our bins, did a final check and we were off on our way,” she said.
Porcupine Health Unit workers provided back up support to workers from the Sudbury Health Unit, dispatched from Chapleau. Although Foleyet is closer to Timmins, it falls under the jurisdiction of the Sudbury Health Unit because of geographical territories. Regardless, Leggatt says pandemic training paid off for her staff.
“We’ve done a lot of work with pandemic planning since SARS, so it was kind of neat to be able to use what we had put in place for that.”
Trinier says nothing ever works perfectly, but he is pleased overall with the way the Foleyet emergency was handled by all the agencies involved.
“I think we’re very satisfied with how the incident progressed. There was early recognition of the event and the potential risks to public safety,” he said.
Trinier had praise for the clear thinking of the railroad company staff and the first paramedics and police officers on the scene.
“Most definitely, had it been a serious, or infectious or communicable disease problem, the early recognition by the VIA rail staff and the response by the EMS and the OPP to secure the scene, could have prevented a major catastrophy in a more urban setting should that train have been allowed continue southbound,” he said.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Shania splits from Mutt - No One Needs To Know?

Entertainment media outlets and websites are reporting today that Shania Twain, 42, is splitting up from her husband, well-known rock producer Robert John "Mutt" Lange. The couple have been married for 14 years. Twain, a singer and songwriter who spent much of her life growing up in Timmins, achieved superstar fame in the mid-90's with the release of her album The Woman In Me.
The news is being reported by The Toronto Sun, The Toronto Star, The National Post and PEOPLE Magazine websites.
As of this posting, no other news websites in Timmins are reporting the story.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Fire call at Hollinger bleachers

Firefighters responded to what appears to be a vandalism fire call at the Hollinger Park bleachers just before eight oclock this evening. The alarm was called in by witnesses who reported seeing smoke coming from the southeast portion of the bleachers. Arriving on the scene, firefighters discovered a small fire in the enclosed area beneath the stands. Timmins Police Service has been called to investigate.

Robbery at Mac's Milk in Timmins

Timmins Police Service is investigating another armed robbery at the Mac’s Milk store at the corner of Algonquin and Mountjoy. Police say the incident occurred shortly after 4:00 p.m. today when a male person, dressed all in black, and armed with a knife, confronted the store clerk.
Police say the man was handed a quantity of cash and then walked out of the store and was last seen heading northbound along Mountjoy.
Police Sergeant Henry Dacosta,right, told reporters at the scene that this may be the third or fourth robbery at that particular store this year. Convenience stores in Timmins were the target of several armed robberies over the Christmas and New Year's period.Dacosta said the suspect is a male caucasian of roughly five-feet ten-inches tall, wearing black pants, a black sweater and a black hoodie. The man's face was covered.
Police are checking videotape from the store as well as videotape from a nearby business that may have shown the suspect entering and leaving the Mac's premises.

Timmins role in emergency to be examined

A debriefing exercise is to be held in Timmins tomorrow afternoon to go over the details of the Foleyet emergency, which was the focus of nationwide attention on Friday.
Even though it all took place 100 kilometres southwest of the city, Timmins played a significant role in the Foleyet emergency situation on Friday. That’s because Timmins was the nearest major community with a full range of health care services, medical laboratories, emergency response personnel and even hazardous materials specialists.
All those roles came into play Friday morning, when Ontario Provincial Police were notified that a person had died aboard the eastbound VIA Rail train, The Canadian, just minutes before the train rolled into Foleyet at about 9:00 a.m.
Police ordered the train halted until a team of crime scene officers from the OPP in South Porcupine detachment could investigate.
At the time of her death, the 43-year old woman from South Africa was being attended to by a British physician who happened to be on holiday aboard the train. The physician mentioned to train staff that other individuals in the car were not feeling well, and had flu-like symptoms.
“It would appear the discovery of this woman and the coincidental nature of the illnesses of the other passengers, the physician on board had some initial concerns that perhaps they were related,” said OPP Staff Sergeant Rob Knox during a media scrum on Friday.
That’s all it took to get the wheels in motion, literally. There was an ambulance and a team of paramedics already on station in Foleyet and they were first to respond. Next to be dispatched were EMS supervisors Jean Carriere and Luc Hurtubise of Timmins who rushed to the scene with a truckload of special first-response medical equipment and stretchers.
A Ministry of Health air ambulance helicopter was dispatched to Foleyet. It landed in the train yard, just west of the main tracks. One woman described as having “respiratory distress” was strapped onto a stretcher, loaded aboard the helicopter and rushed to Timmins and District Hospital.
Once there the patient was put in isolation and quickly examined and tested for several possible infectious diseases before being given a clean bill of health.
The ambulance dispatch centre, located in the Timmins Police community facility, also known as the com-centre, became central to all the activities.
Selena Gauthier, left, the communications Liaison and Policy officer, explains that because of the lack of normal cell phone service in Foleyet and with restrictions on landline phone service, the ambulance radio communications became even more vital.(Photo shows Selena Gauthier, left, and ambulance radio operator Amy Chartier.)
There was a Canada-wide conference call held at 2:30 Friday afternoon so that crucial decisions could be made about the future of the quarantine. The call was routed through the Timmins com-centre with the doctor aboard the train using a portable radio from a Timmins paramedic.
“Because they wanted the doctor on the train to be in the teleconference, it was routed through our communications centre,” said Selena Gauthier, the liaison and policy officer at the com-centre.
“It was quite amazing,” she added. “It’s the first time we’ve used that technology in that way.”
The Timmins Fire Department was also sent to the scene said city fire chief Mike Pintar.
“We actually got called first thing in the morning. They put us on standby. But we didn’t deploy the hazardous materials services, our HazMat group, we didn’t deploy until about 12 noon when they called us back when they knew more about what was going on,” said Pintar.
“What we were going to be used for was assistance to the paramedics and the police. We were going to use our decon (decontamination) unit. We were just there to assist,” Pintar added.
He agreed that Foleyet is well outside the Timmins municipal protection area, “but the next closest teams would be Sault Ste. Marie or North Bay. They’re provincial HazMat teams. We are not designated yet, but I think the province will be looking at that,” Pintar said, adding that he was impressed with the level of cooperation between all agencies.
“From what I saw when I was there I thought it was all done very well.”
Gauthier says she too was pleased with the way the day unfolded.
“I’m very interested in the debriefing because I would like to learn more about what we could have done, or how things could have been different, but overall given the situation that none of us experienced before, I think it went well.”

Timmins road rage hotline begins today

The new aggressive drivers hotline, which goes into service today in Timmins, is not expected to pit neighbor-against-neighbor or driver-against-driver, says Timmins Police Service traffic sergeant Bill Aird, right.
Aird says it’s the aim of police to make Timmins one of the safest driving cities in Canada. He says the push is on now as Timmins Police observes Canada Road Safety Week, which comes right before one of the busiest long weekends of the year for driving.
Aird says the focus will be on sober and alert driving, proper seat belt use and reducing all aspects of aggressive driving. He says that it is appropriate that Timmins is launching it’s new aggressive driver hotline, aimed to reducing road rage and other bad driving habits.
“It’s more of an awareness program,” said Aird, who says in many cases the bad driving is not done by the owner of the vehicle. He says that bad driving can be done by friends, children or spouses of the owner.
“You may not be aware if you lend your vehicle out that it’s being driven aggressively.”
He adds that the information sent to the police will be kept confidential as will the identity of the callers. Drivers who get complaints again their habits will be sent a letter informing them of the complaint. Aird says the information will not be provided to insurance companies or used for laying charges
“These are information letters only,” said Aird. “If you’re the driver, you’ll be thinking ‘you know what, the citizens are watching me out there. They’re watching me change lanes unsafely, they’re watching me speed. I have to be more careful’,” said Aird. He adds that those who get frequent complaints will get a personal visit from police and they will know that police know about their bad habits and will be keeping an eye out for those bad habits.
“If this prevents one injury, or one death or we can correct the behavior of ten drivers, then this program is worthwhile,” said police Insp. Paul Bonhomme.
The hotline number is 360-8717, but Aird says if anyone witnesses driving that presents an imminent danger, to call the normal police complaint line at 264-1201.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Timmins sends help to Foleyet emergency

Emergency services and emergency workers from Timmins were sent to Foleyet today to assist in the emergency where a VIA Rail passenger train was stopped and quarantined after a woman died on board. (click on photos to see full size) Timmins fire department was dispatched with a hazardous materials and decontamination team.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Liberty says third new mine on the way

Liberty Mines Inc, which operates the Redstone nickel mine in the extreme southeastern corner of the city, said this week it has found positive results of more nickel ore after drilling on it’s Hart property, located about six kilometres east of the Redstone property.
Liberty says it expects this to lead to the creation of yet another nickel mine in Timmins. It Would become Liberty’s third producing nickel mine in Timmins.
In a statement released Wednesday, the company says diamond drilling on the Hart project, in Shaw Township, is nearing completion.
“Diamond drilling to date has defined an ore body with an average strike length of approximately 265m that can be subdivided into two zones based on sulphide content and ore zone width: the upper zone contained within the top 275m below surface, and the lower zone found below this elevation,” the statement said.
Earlier this year, Liberty Mines president Gary Nash said he was confident the Hart property would prove up with significant reserves.
Nash said the “pods” of nickel were being found in lava channels, which are ancient volcanic rock formations.
Nash said that the area was “under-explored” despite being owned by four different mining companies over the years.
Nash said that historically, the exploration drilling went to less than 200 feet.
“If everybody had looked the way they should have, the way these lava channels are formed and that’s why four previous owners of the Hart project just kinda gave up on it and its proving out for us to be one of the largest tonnage properties that we’ve got.”
Liberty’s vice president of exploration, William Randall, says more drilling results will be available in mid-May.
"We have now outlined a major portion of the deposit, and feel comfortable enough in our interpretations to hand the project over to the mining department,” Randall said in the company statement.
Liberty’s Redstone mining operation opened in Timmins last summer.
The Liberty McWatters Mine property, also in Shaw Township, is currently under development with an access ramp being driven from surface.
Work began in February and the company says the McWatters property should be in production by November of this year.

Domtar layoff confirmed for Timmins

The downturn in the forestry industry has caught up with the last major operating sawmill in Timmins.
The afternoon shift at the Domtar Corp. McChesney sawmill in Timmins will be eliminated as of May 19 according to a news release issued from the company’s head office in Montreal on Wednesday.
It could mean the layoff of 25 to 35 workers, according to information from local employees. Workers at the mill say they were advised of the layoffs and shift cuts at an employee meeting held in the city last Friday.
Despite repeated efforts by The Timmins Times, local management officials have not been available for comment and corporate communications will not return phone calls.
Local employees also say they were told that the remaining workers at the mill could be facing a cut in their local production bonus of approximately two percent and a cut in local wages of approximately three percent.
The company CEO Raymond Royer told shareholders this week that Domtar will focus on reducing it’s debt and creating more value for the shareholders.
"We believe that the rigour we have demonstrated so far in managing our balance sheet enhances our investment profile within our industry," Royer said.
The Domtar McChesney mill is the oldest and longest operating sawmill in Timmins, having begun in the 1920s. The ther major mills in Timmins include the Tembec mill which shut down in 2006 and the Grant Forest Products OSB plant, which is closed as the result of a company lockout begun in September 2006.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Timmins has a surplus - council still raises taxes

Timmins city council has voted in a 2008 residential property tax rate of 3.19 percent, roughly one third higher than the current rate of inflation.
Council’s vote to hike taxes was made moments after learning there is a budget surplus - - money left over from 2007.
City council’s vote on Monday was not unanimous. Councillor Bill Gvozdanovic stood alone and voted against the tax rate increase.
City hall administration presented council with three options for the tax rate vote.
Option One was a 2.92 per cent increase. Option Two was a 3.19 per cent increase. Option Three was a 3.94 per cent increase. There was no option offered to hold the line at no increase.
The Option Two increase allows council to spend an additional $147,000. This would include making up a revenue shortfall of $120,000 at the Golden Manor and would allow $27,000 for hiring four extra students to cut grass.
Gvozdanovic told council his vote against the rate was not because of the revenue loss at Golden Manor.
“I am more than happy with the way that facility is run. I am just disturbed with some of the other things going on,” he said.
Gvozdanovic mentioned that he was upset at the fact that two janitorial jobs had been cut at the McIntyre Community Building, that one thousand man-hours had been dedicated to the renovation of city hall council chambers and that an additional $27,000 would be spent to hire four summer students to cut grass.
Councillor Denis Saudino said he too was prepared to vote against the budget because council has not yet seen the 2007 actual spending figures.
Saudino said he could not, in good conscience, vote on a 2008 tax rate without knowing if there was going to be a deficit or surplus for the city, for 2007.
“Normally I would support this budget hands down, but at this time I find it very difficult to do so without year-end results,” Saudino said.
At that point, Mayor Tom Laughren advised council there would not be a deficit on the city’s 2007 spending.
“I can honestly tell you that in my discussions with the treasurer and CAO that we will not be a deficit position for 2007,” said the Mayor, who added there would be a “slight surplus” for 2007.
City treasurer Bernie Christian confirmed the mayor’s statement.
At that point, Saudino changed his stand and said he would be prepared to vote for Option Two.
Other city councillors spoke in support of the tax hike, emphasizing that the city’s job is to provide service to the taxpayers.
The new residential tax rate will mean an increase of roughly $95 per year for an average residential property which now pays roughly $3000 per year in property taxes.

Popular garbage cans now illegal in Timmins

On the same night that Timmins city council decided to raise property taxes to improve services, it also decided to put a limit on the size of garbage cans Timmins residents can put their garbage in.
Hundreds of city residents may have to throw out their garbage cans with the garbage this week based on a bylaw amendment passed by Timmins city council Monday night. There will be no grace period for homeowners. Old, oversized cans will not be picked up.
After nearly an hour of debate, council decided that city sanitation workers will not have to tackle garbage cans any larger than 129 litres.
The bylaw also states that regardless of the size of the can, sanitation workers are not required to lift any garbage can, or garbage bag, that weighs more than 20 kilograms or 44 pounds. Workers are also told not to reach into the can and remove items bag by bag since that could be hazardous.
Council’s decisions follows a presentation made by city sanitation director Marcel Cardinal and public works director Chris Bazinet, who argued that council should make a firm decision on the size of garbage cans.
Their presentation followed a work action by city employees last week where sanitation workers did not pick up garbage cans that were obviously too heavy or too large. The city employees were following the letter of the old bylaw which stated that garbage cans were limited to 85 litres.
To press the point the home, even the 133-litre square black plastic bins used by Mayor Tom Laughren were left at curbside. Laughren had to drive to the dump to drop off his gartbage. In a memo to their supervisor, the workers said they were only willing to pick up garbage cans to a limit of 129 litres.
Laughren admitted he also took scores of phone calls from residents upset that their garbage cans were left, still full, at curbside.
The large 133 litre garbage bins appear to be popular because they have wheels and can carry a larger amount of trash, thus making it easier for the homeowner.
According to Bazinet, one of the key concerns about the “illegal” garbage can was safety for the employees. He and Cardinal both stressed that the larger cans are difficult to lift and dump, from shoulder height, into the garbage truck.
Bazinet said the city had allowed the bylaw “to creep” forward to the point where people just kept buying larger and larger containers.
“It became unmanageable,” said Bazinet. Cardinal said the workers had continued to pick up larger containers because “they were going the extra mile, to provide great customer service.”
Councillor Bill Gvozdanovic said if the workers found the cans too heavy, they should leave them. He also suggested that sanitation employees should work in pairs, even if it takes a full shift.
Currently, Gvozdanovic said sanitation truck workers are on a “finish and go home” plan where they are allowed to end their day once they have finished their route. No one at the meeting disputed his comment.
Gvozdanovic said this was an unsafe procedure and could lead to worker burn-out. He suggested that the sanitation workers should work in pairs and then go back to the yard when there is still time left in their shift.
Gvozdanovic also disputed the issue of can size. He said he was indeed upset “to come home and not have my garbage picked up, when it’s been picked up in the same can for the last I-don’t-know-how-many years…”
“I asked the guy was if it was too heavy, he said ‘no… your container is 133 litres and we’re only picking up 129’. I kinda felt that was a little bit chintzy,” Gvozdanovic said.
Most city councillors were sold on the ideas of increasing the can size limit from 85 litres to 129 litres, saying it was actually a step forward in terms of better service for the taxpayer.
Council then passed the amendment to the bylaw which now states that garbage bins can be no larger than the 129-litre size and must be unmodified, meaning that older largers bins cannot be cut down to a smaller size.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Child on bicycle collides with car

Traffic was halted on Pine Street South today when a little girl on a bicycle collided with a northbound vehicle. Firefighters and paramedics arrived on the scene around 4:00 p.m. to find the youngster shaken up, but it seemingly good condition. Timmins Police are investigating.

Wires down at the airport

Timmins police and firefighters responded to the Timmins Victor M. Power Airport during the noon hour today when it was reported a tractor trailor knocked down a series of overhead utility wires. No one was hurt. Damage was minimal. Police continue to investigate.

Car and pedestrian mishap

Paramedics comforted a young woman involved in a car-pedestrian collision at the corner of Ross Avenue and Harmony Street today. The woman suffered non life-threatening injuries. The woman was transported to Timmins and District Hospital. Timmins Police continue to investigate.

Flood warning cancelled

The Upper Mattagami Water Management Committee has cancelled the Flood Advisory and Flood Warning for the Mattagami River, Water levels throughout the watershed continue to drop in response to the drier weather. Officials will continue to monitor watershed conditions in the weeks to come to ensure that the public is kept up to date should conditions change.

Police update rider rescue story

South Porcupine OPP officers, working with the assistance of the Timmins Police Service and the Timmins Search and Rescue Team, successfully located and rescued a local man who had been injured while horseback riding in the Grassy River area during the evening of Friday, May 2nd, 2008.
The OPP had received a report at approximately 6:00 p.m. on Friday evening that a 59 yr old Timmins man had fallen off his horse followed by the horse falling onto him resulting in serious but non-life threatening injuries. A comprehensive search effort was coordinated by the South Porcupine OPP which commenced that evening which culminated with the rescue of the injured person shortly after midnight that evening. The injured man was taken to Timmins and District Hospital by ambulance.
The injured man had been horseback riding in a party of 3 along the east bank of the Grassy River in Price Twp (south of Timmins) when the incident occurred.
The OPP deployed its Emergency Response Team (ERT), a canine unit, and OPP ATV officers who worked in conjunction with the Timmins Police Service and the members of the Timmins Search and Rescue Team. Search efforts were hampered by the remoteness of the area, terrain, weather and lack of daylight, but the injured man was being attended to by a member of his party who happened to be a medical doctor.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Tree on wires

Traffic was slowed to a crawl in the west end of Timmins friday afternoon when a dead tree fell onto hydro wires along Norman Street. The mishap caused a brief power outage that shut down traffic lights on Riverside Drive. Hydro One crews removed the tree and retored power within an hour.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Rider is rescued

Ontario Provincial Police, Timmins Fire Department, Paramedics and even Porcupine Area Search and Rescue all spent the night in the bush south of Timmins in a dramatic rescue effort, after a rider fell from a horse Friday afternoon while riding near the Grassy River in Price Township. Details are sketchy but police say the horse slipped on the riverbank and fell onto the rider. The rider called for help using a cellphone, but the batteries soon died. OPP launched a search and the missing rider was discovered shortly after midnight, early Saturday morning. The horse had to be rolled off the rider and into the river, so the rider could be freed. The horse was rescued as well. By daylight, a boat (above) was launched on the Grassy River to help transfer the patient across the river to a waiting ambulance. One ambulance got bogged down on a remote bush road and the patient then had to be carried to another ambulance waiting nearby. It was after nine oclock Saturday morning, that the patient was finally transported to Timmins and District Hospital. More information will be posted by The Timmins Times as it becomes available.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Timmins bridge project officially postponed

The Barber’s Bay Bridge will continue as a one-lane link on the Municipal Road (Highway 67) between Timmins and Iroquois Falls, at least for this year.
Timmins city council has decided to hold off on any reconstruction work on the bridge until it can convince the province to either ante up some shared financing, or accept the bridge back as the responsibility of the Ontario Ministry of Transport (MTO).
Council was upset earlier this year upon learning that the cost of rebuilding the 1939 bridge had nearly doubled from the original engineering estimates.
The original estimate for reconstruction of a two-lane bridge, and raising the deck, was set at $2.5 to $3 million.
But after opening tenders on March 20, the city was shocked to learn the cost was closer to to $5 million.
In his report to council this week, city engineer Luc Duval noted “it would be beneficial to the city of Timmins to slightly delay this project while discussions continue with the province to acquire more funding or upload the former Highway 67.”
The bridge was “downloaded” by the Ontario government in 1999, when it handed responsibility for Highway 67 over to the City of Timmins.
The city was presented with three options to choose from this week.
Option one was to reconstruct the bridge, without fully closing it to traffic, over two construction seasons, beginning this summer. One lane would be done one year, the second lane would be done next year. The cost would be $5 million. Duval says it would force the city to borrow $3.5 million.
The second option would be to close the bridge to all traffic, and reconstruct it over a single season, thus saving $1 million. The overall price tag would still come in at $4 million, forcing the city to borrow $2.5 million.
Option three, council’s choice, is to delay the project, pending a structural review and implementing safety procedures.
The structural safety review has been done. An engineering firm has determined the bridge is “structurally sound” and can continue as a one-lane bridge on a first-approach, first-to-cross basis, Duval reported.
The speed limit on the approach to the bridge is 60 kilometres per hour.
In approving the third option at city council this week, councillor Mike Doody noted that the city had met with the local ratepayers’ association in Barber’s Bay and that the group had agreed with council’s plan.

McIntyre Committee names Pupich as chair

The Mayor’s Ad Hoc Committee on the future of the McIntyre Community Building held it’s second meeting by taking an extensive tour of the building Wednesday night.
“It was a real good tour that took well over two hours so the people could familiarize themselves with some of the challenges,” Mayor Tom Laughren told The Timmins Times this week.
The Mayor’s committee was formed earlier this year at the recommendation of the city’s administration which noted that the building continues to be a drain on the city treasury.
In a detailed report to city council in February, city clerk Jack Watson advised “the average annual deficit between 2002 and 2006 was $522,000”.
He added that the projected deficit for 2007 would be $500,000.
Watson told council that even though major cost savings had been put in place, “the Mac” still didn’t generate enough revenue to pay its heat and hydro bills.
Despite that, the mayor says the Ad Hoc Committee is not looking to shut the building down.
“Oh no, no, this is a committee that’s looking at how we can better the facility,” Laughren said. “There’s nobody talking that, there’s nobody around the council table talking that.”
Laughren said the group is a forward thinking committee with positive ideas.
“We’re looking at how can we improve, we have a love for the McIntyre. We’ve talked a lot about the history of the McIntyre. This is something that for sure we don’t want to lose.” Laughren said.
Laughren says the first meeting was to brainstorm on ideas to produce more revenue, the second meeting was the complete tour of the building and the next meeting will include a full financial report from city treasurer Bernie Christian.
The members of the Mayor’s committee includes Ward Three City Councillor Bill Gvozdanovich, Ed Pupich, Keith Grenke, Ted Zajac, Perry Rinaldo. Darlene Polowy and Aimie Rivard. Other members of the committee are Mayor Tom Laughren, city administrator Joe Torlone and city clerk Jack Watson.
At Wednesday’s meeting, Pupich was named chair of the committee and Polowy was named vice-chair.