Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hollinger open pit project moves forward

The Goldcorp Hollinger open pit project is moving forward to the next step of seeking permits, it was revealed in an e-mail to shareholders in Timmins and across Canada on Thursday along with the company’s financial update.
“At the Hollinger project, the company has identified high potential underground targets at both ends of the Hollinger – McIntyre trend. Additional exploration drilling will be focused on these areas, while permitting will begin on an open pit development located within the historic Hollinger area. Mining operations ceased in this area in 1968,” said the e-mail.
Dave Bucar Strategic Development Manager for Porcupine Gold Mines in Timmins confirmed Thursday that the project is moving ahead in the sense that the company is ready to begin the process of revitalizing and mining the Hollinger property, provided it gets approval permits.
But Bucar says this does not automatically mean that a new open pit mine will happen right away.
“Not necessarily. It means we have a pre-feasibility study that’s complete. And the next step is to see if we can get permits to see if we can do further work on our project to develop it,” Bucar told The Timmins Times.
“My planned next steps are to go to the community with our update, and that will kick us off into our next steps, which is permitting, which is asking for permission to do everything that we want to do,” Bucar said.
The steps in that process includes getting permission from the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, as well as permission from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment. Several other government agencies will also be consulted over a period of several months.
Bucar confirmed that exploration diamond drilling will continue, so as to help company geologists get a better idea of the full size and scope of the Hollinger ore zone.
As part of the research into the project, Porcupine Gold Mines has been studying the effects that dust, vibration and noise that such an open pit mining operation would have in an urban setting.
Bucar says more information on the project will be forthcoming within a matter of weeks. He is hoping to be able to release more news before the end of the month.
“My planned next steps are to go to the community with our update, and that will kick us off into our next steps, which is permitting, which is asking for permission to do everything that we want to do,” he said.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Car and bike crash

A Timmins woman suffered what police termed as "minor scrapes and bruises" after the bicycle she was riding was in a minor crash with a car at the intersection of Balsam Street and Sixth Avenue Tuesday evening. Paramedics, police and firefighters responded to the call.

Landmark fireplace

As odd as it sounds, this massive stone fireplace has become something of a landmark in Timmins. It's one of the few things left from the first ten years of the city's history. There are many legends and stories about it. Few people know where to find it. The full story, the true story, on how and where the fireplace came to be will be in Diane Armstrong's Over The Hill column in Friday's street edition of The Timmins Times.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Timmins makes its mark on De Beers

The official opening of the De Beers Victor diamond mine on the weekend seemed to be as much an event for Timmins as it was for the world’s best-known diamond mining company.
The impact the De Beers mine has had on Timmins, and vice versa, is apparent the moment a visitor embarks on the journey north. Air Creebec, which has a significant base in Timmins, has the contract to ferry employees to and from the mine site, located approximately 550 kilometres north of Timmins.
There are several flights each day from the Victor Power Airport to the Victor project airstrip.
Passengers are quickly processed and boarded for the flight, which takes one hour, 20 minutes. Many of the mine employees are based in Timmins and are rotated on a schedule of two weeks in, two weeks out. There are exceptions, but a company spokesperson said the two-week rotation was the one that appealed to most of the workers.
Arriving at the site, visitors are hustled aboard a company bus and the safety factor comes into the play as the driver instructs every passenger to buckle their seat belt.
After a short drive from the airstrip to the administration building, passengers are processed through security and orientation and issued with safety gear; vest, hardhat, gloves, glasses and steel-toed boots.
As visitors are escorted around the property, there is something familiar about it all that is hard to place, until one realizes that many of the faces one sees, are those of Timmins residents.
Whether it’s a heavy equipment operator, a maintenance person, a manager or a kitchen staffer, Timmins residents are everywhere at the Victor project.
De Beers has also hired workers from across the north, from such communities as Cochrane, Kapuskasing, Sudbury, Thunder Bay and numerous First Nations communities. Corporate and public affairs manager Tom Ormsby says more than 40 per cent of the employees are aboriginals.
As part of the official opening ceremonies Saturday, Timmins city councillor, and acting mayor Steve Adams, was called to the podium.
“The city of Timmins is honoured to be here,” said Adams.
“This is very important to our city. This is very important to all the cities along Highway 11 and throughout Northern Ontario.”
Adams says many communities are learning that a new mining discovery does not necessarily have to be within their local city boundaries, in order for business to benefit.
“Our people have learned to be suppliers to mines, so for the next mining discovery we’ll be ready. And it’s sure to come, whether it’s diamonds or copper or whatever, we are ready,” said Adams.
Adams presented a plaque from the city to congratulate the diamond company on its success.
“It has been an honour to work with Timmins,” said mine general manager Peter Mah as he accepted the plaque. He congratulated city leaders for supporting the De Beers project right from the beginning.
“It has been a tremendous effort and I thank you,” said Mah.
Dave McGirr, president of the Timmins Economic Development Corporation, also attended.
“I think the De Beers Victor Mine is a classic example of a the strong economic development opportunities that do exist in the North and what we’ve seen today is, in my mind, the eighth wonder of the world,” McGirr enthused.
McGirr also predicted the project would have a profound socio-economic benefit for the communities and people of the James Bay Coast.
The event was also attended by many Timmins business leaders who have provided goods and services to the project. Timmins Chamber of Commerce president Marilyn Wood was in attendance, as was renowned Timmins photographer Graeme Oxby. Former Timmins mayor Vic Power attended as did well known local prospector John Larche.
The opening ceremonies and celebrations continue this evening in Timmins, as De Beers will host a civic reception for invited guests and community leaders.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Brad's Pit officially opened

ATTAWAPISKAT, ON - Quite literally, it’s a jewel in the wilderness. The new De Beers diamond mine and processing plant was “officially” opened Saturday on a 15 hectare tract of land the aboriginals call mushkego. Many southerners might know it as muskeg.
The Victor Mine is 1200 kilometres north of Toronto. Many Ontario residents, unaware of the vast size of the province, might be surprised to learn that as the raven flies Fredericton, New Brunswick is closer to Toronto than the mine, which is roughly 90 kilometres inland from the saltwater shores of James Bay.
What makes the operation unique is not only that its Ontario’s first diamond mine, it’s also one of the remotest mining operations in the province.
An indication of that came Saturday morning as several planeloads of VIPs were being flown into the site for the day long celebration. A lone caribou that wandered onto the gravel airstrip was responsible for holding up one of the incoming flights. After waiting patiently for several minutes, the caribou was “coaxed” into leaving the airstrip by an employee in a slow moving truck.
That was the exception to the rule.
“Wildlife has the right-of-way here,” said Tom Ormsby, the manager of Corporate and Public Affairs for De Beers Victor Project. He explained that it’s all part of the company’s corporate attitude to leave as small a footprint as possible on the delicate ecosystem of the James Bay lowlands.
The attitude was echoed by mine manager Peter Mah who expressed delight that his engineers were able to find a quarry of limestone nearby. The limestone, which has a benign effect on the environment, is used for road building and creating the numerous berms and moats surrounding the mine property. Mah also outlined how the muskeg, a dark peaty material, was stripped from the surface of the pit and has been stockpiled so that it can be returned the land at some point 15 or 20 years in the future. The other unique aspect of the Victor operation is that the diamonds are unusually high quality. Simon O’Brien, De Beers’ diamond liaison manager explained that most diamond mining operations produce a wide spectrum of diamond qualities. That’s not the case at Victor. He says nearly all the stones at classed as VS-1, which he says indicates brilliant gem quality.
“It only produces diamonds of very nice quality,” said O’Brien.. In lots of other mines we produce diamonds of a similar quality but we also produce diamonds of a very, very low quality,” said O’Brien.
“It’s phenomenal really. It’s absolutely phenomenal that this mine only produces these wonderful gem-quality stones.”
O’Brien says the Victor mine is not a large volume mining operation, but it is the quality of the diamonds that made it economical for the mine to proceed. De Beers has invested nearly $1 billion getting the open pit mine and processing plant into production.
The life of the mine is estimated at 12 years, producing 600,000 carats a year. But mine manager Peter Mah is optimistic it could be longer. There are several other kimberlite pipes located nearby and he says exploration for more diamonds is a priority.
Brad Wood, the company’s technical services manager at the mine is especially pleased to see the mine going into production.
Wood was a geology student back in 1978 as part of a De Beers field exploration crew was working in the area. That was the summer Wood volunteered to look after the camp one weekend so he could spend time with fishing with his dad, who flew in from Burlington.
“We weren’t having a lot of luck with the fishing,” Wood recalls. Being a keen geology student, he noticed some rocks along the shore of the Attawapiskat River.
“We picked up a lot of rocks, but there was this particular one that was different and unique,” he said.
“Some of the senior people from South Africa were visiting,” he said. Once they examined the rock, “it caused quite a bit of excitement.” It caused enough excitement to convince them to intensify their search in the area. The rest is history. Wood smiles as he reminded by co-workers that the massive open pit is referred to as “Brad’s Pit.”
Michael Gravelle, Ontario’s minister of Northern Development and Mines, also attended the opening. Gravelle says the recent announcement by Premier Dalton McGuinty aimed at “protecting” the far north from future resource development, does not mean there cannot be future projects such as the Victor Mine.
“We are very excited about the premier’s far northern announcement about protecting fifty per cent of the far north,” said Gravelle.
“But what’s important for everyone to understand, particularly those in southern Ontario, it’s a huge massive piece of land up here and fifty per cent will still be open for development.”
The company says it’s mine also stands as an example of cooperation with aboriginals. Ormsby explained that extraordinary steps were taken to consult with the nearby Attawapiskat First Nation on the planning and development of the mine. De Beers has signed three separate Impact Benefit Agreements with First Nations on the James Bay coast. This has included employment agreements where more than forty per cent of the workers at the mine are aboriginal. Despite that, the Attawapiskat First Nation issued a news release Friday saying it was boycotting the opening ceremony, citing “numerous items of concern were present regarding current and future operations” at the mine.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Motorcycle crash

Timmins paramedics, firefighters and police responded to a crash involving a motorcycle at Airport Road and Riverpark drive, just after one oclock this afternoon. The motorcycle driver suffered minor injuries and was tended to at the scene by the paramedics. Timmins Police Service is investigating.

Moose Cree make homeland declaration

“We are the Moose Cree People, the original people of this land…”
With those words, Chief Patricia Faries-Akiwenzie made a declaration Thursday that outlined nearly 6 million hectares of land as belonging to the Moose Cree First Nation.
The parcel of land stretches from north of Moosonee to an area near the Chapleau Crown Game Preserve. It does not include Timmins, but it does include Kapuskasing, Mattice, Val Rita and Moonbeam.
Before a gathering of Timmins media representatives, Faries-Akiwenzie said, “the time has come” to let everyone know who the owners of the land are.
“When our forefathers signed the treaty, we made it clear we were not giving up our land,” said Faries-Akiwenzie.
The chief, who is also a lawyer with a practice in Moose Factory, says the declaration is not meant to tie up the courts.
We are not opposed to development but you must get our consent prior to any development occurring within our homeland.
She said the intent of the declaration is not to create conflict, but instead foster a new climate of cooperation since the land and her people are being faced with so many new challenges involving mining, forestry, hydro-electric developments and even wind energy.
“We are saying you need our consent. We need to be a part of the whole development aspect,” said the chief.
Faries-Akiwenzie says the declaration is not in response to any urgent matter or development. She says the project to define the traditional land has been underway for several years and has involved extensive research with families and elders who have lived on the land. She adds the declaration is not involved with the announcement last week by Premier Dalton McGuinty that northern lands need to be protected.
“We were not involved in the premier’s plan to declare any of it protected,” Faries-Akiwenzie told reporters.
“This is one of the approaches Ontario has always had in the way they deal with First Nations. They don’t involve us in their planning or anything like that.”
She adds however, now that the declaration has been made, northern communities are being put on notice that from this point forward, the Moose Cree First Nation will be protecting it’s interests.
“The Moose Cree are a sovereign nation and we will control our own destiny,” said the chief.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Timmins man missing for one year now

It was one year ago today that 79-year-old Luciano Trinaistich of Porcupine was last seen. He had left home early in the afternoon of July 24 to go berry picking. When he did not return home that evening, police were notified and a search was launched.
Trinaistich’s Jeep Grand Cherokee was discovered on a narrow bush road in Murphy Township, an area that was thick with blueberries and raspberries. Ontario Provincial Police, Timmins Police, the Ministry of Natural Resources, Timmins Search and Rescue and Porcupine Search and Rescue carried out an extensive search and found no clue to the man’s disappearance. Several theories were put forward, such as the man was attacked by a bear or fell down an old mining hole. All theories were fully investigated, and nothing was found. Even though Trinaistich was a smoker, searchers did not even find cigarette butts. Ontario Provincial Police have indicated that the file will remain active but there is no official plan to restart the search unless there is some compelling evidence that comes forward.

Ministry of Labour issues order to Hoyle Pond

This ambulance carrying a seriously injured miner, rushed away from the mine gate at Hoyle Pond last Friday morning. The Ontario Ministry of Labour says a miner trying to clear pre-blasted holes was seriously injured last Friday when a secondary explosion occurred at the Hoyle Pond Mine. The ministry says the miner suffered serious injuries, was transported to Timmins and District Hospital and from there to a hospital in Ottawa. The ministry says Goldcorp Porcupine Gold Mines has been ordered to provide information to its workers on the dangers of using steel or iron tools in any hole that contains an explosive. The investigation continues.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Mully made it happen?

We're not sure, but Timmins Times columnist Mike Mulryan was on a rant last week about the poor condition of the road lines on Highway 101 West. Mulryan argued it was a valid safety concern. Today we noticed that the road crews were out on the scene just west of the Grant and Tembec plants, painting new lines on the road. Way to go Mully!

Miner's mother maintains vigil

Cheryl Dufoe maintained a vigil on HIghway 655 outside the Xstrata Copper Kidd Mine in Timmins today. It was where her son, Lyle Dufoe, 25, died one year ago when the scooptram he was driving, went over the edge of an excavation and crashed into a stope. Mrs. Dufoe and her husband Ephraim travelled to Timmins this week to seek signatures on a petition to change the mining section of the occupational health and safety act in such a way they say will make it safer for all miners in Ontario. Xstrata has been charged by the Ministry of Labour in connection with the death of Lyle Dufoe.

Diamonds make their mark on Timmins

“This is a good news announcement,” declared Timmins mayor Tom Laughren as he officially proclaimed this week as De Beers Diamond Mine Week in recognition of the impact the De Beers project has had on the city best known for gold mining.
“You know some people may find this a little strange that the city of Timmins is proclaiming De Beers Victor diamond mine week because its 700 kilometres away from here,” admitted mayor Tom Laughren.
“But I think when you look at the impact for one that De Beers has had on our community, when you look at the people from this community now working at De Beers on a fulltime basis, the many people from Timmins who worked up there on a construction basis, as well as companies from Timmins that worked up there, it has had a huge economic impact on our community,” the mayor stated.
“It’s something we are proud of, not only from a City of Timmins perspective, but from economic development perspective as well as a chamber of commerce perspective, because we all lobbied very, very hard for some of the challenges and hurdles De Beers has had and will we continue to do that going forward for any challenges and hurdles going forward,” he added.
The mayor was thanked for the proclamation by Rachel Pineault, the director of human resources and aboriginal affairs for the Victor Project. She said the city of Timmins and the First Nations communities on the James Bay coast have made a significant contribution to the success of the Victor project.
“We’d like to thank the City of Timmins for recognizing the hard work of all our team members, our employees and our partners for bringing us Ontario’s first diamond mine into production,” Pineault said.
“The Victor mine is completing its ramp-up to full production and we are pleased to say that we have been meeting our timelines and targets along the way. In the next couple of weeks we will be celebrating that success with our partners and all of our employees,” said Pineault.
The new Victor mine is located just west of Attawapiskat in the James Bay lowlands where there was the discovery of a huge concentration of kimberlite rock formations more than twenty years ago.
The company will mark the official opening of the mine on Saturday by flying in hundreds of workers and dignitaries for a day-long celebration at the mine site. There is another celebration planned for Timmins next week on July 30.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Robbery Update. It was staged, police say.

Timmins Police say the Saturday night incident at the Mac’s Convenience store at Algonquin and Mountjoy was not a robbery after all. On Saturday night, police were told that a young woman entered the store with a knife and demanded cash and cigarettes and then fled in a vehicle.
After an extensive investigation, police say the incident was a "staged theft" involving three persons, including a store employee. As a result, police say two female youths and one male youth have been arrested and charged with several offences that include theft under $5000, committing public mischief, possession of stolen property, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, disguise with intent to commit an offence and breach of probation.
One of the female youths was held in custody pending the outcome of a bail hearing. The two other youths were released from police custody and will attend First Appearance Court on September 1, 2008.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Car - Truck Crash

One woman was taken to hospital with possible head and neck injuries after a car-truck crash at the intersection of Cedar Street and Eighth Avenue, shortly before eight oclock this evening.PHOTO: Firefighters and paramedics tended to the patient moments before she was transported by ambulance to Timmins and District Hospital. Timmins police are investigating.

Summerfest Fun photos

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Another robbery at Mac's

Timmins Police responded to another robbery at the Mac’s Mart convenience store at Algonquin and Mountjoy Saturday night. The offence occurred at about 10:45 p.m. when a woman described at medium build and medium height, with long dark hair, held out a knife and demanded cash and cigarettes. Police say the woman was wearing a grey sweater and grey sweat pants. Police were prepared to set up a containment area for the K9 unit with a tracking dog, but that was called off when witnesses told police the woman fled in a vehicle. Police say anyone with information on the offence may call Crime Stoppers at 268-8477.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Miner injured at Hoyle Pond

The Ontario Ministry of Labour is investigating an incident where a miner was injured underground at Goldcorp’s Hoyle Pond Mine this morning. Paramedics and firefighters were dispatched to the mine site just before nine oclock in response to reports that a man was seriously injured and bleeding heavily. First-aiders and mine rescue workers tended to the man at the scene of the accident and as he was being transported up the ramp, to the waiting ambulance. An ambulance sped away from the mine gate at approximately 9:30 a.m. to bring the patient to Timmins and District Hospital. No other information has been released.

Timmins DSSAB confusion

The Cochrane District Social Services Administration Board (DSSAB) has voted to move out of the 101 Mall and it’s Third Avenue offices into a brand new structure to be built at 500 Algonquin Boulevard East, the site of the old Royal Canadian Legion Hall.
The board decided one month ago, on June 19, to explore the idea of amalgamating all its Timmins based services into one building.
There is some confusion however on what the board has agreed to do, based on comments from board members.
“The board made a decision to enter into a 25-year agreement and I just felt we didn’t have enough information at this time to go into an agreement,” said councillor Denis Saudino, who sits as a board member. “I was the only one who voted against it,” he said.
Saudino says he doesn’t like the idea of the board signing a long-term deal until it explores more options.
DSSAB chair councillor Gary Scripnick views the issue differently.
Scripnick says no deal has been signed.
“I haven’t signed any document and I am the chair.”
“We are looking in that direction, but it could fall through,” Scripnick said Thursday.
Timmins Mayor Tom Laughren, also a member of the board, indicated that plans were firmer.
“Well the agreement is kind of a two-phase agreement. One is that there will be a new building built, that will house not only the ‘social services’ portion of the DSSAB, which is at the 101 Mall, it will also house ‘housing and ambulance’,” said the mayor.
“The old legion building will be torn down as part of this proposal, the footprint of the new building will be roughly the same location and the same size as the existing building,” Laughren continued.
“Completion date is scheduled for sometime next summer. I am going to say August 1st. I don’t think it was ever finalized,” he said.
“I think it’s premature for the mayor to say that,” Scripnick told The Timmins Times.
“The DSSAB is looking for a new location where it could put all of it’s people together,” said Scripnick.
“And we are seriously looking at different proposals,” he said.
“The lease we have in the 101 Mall is about to end next year, so were looking for a new building. There is nothing official. We are looking at some proposals. But that’s about where it sits,” Scripnick told The Times.
No one was able to say what the cost of the new building would be. Saudino, however, says he is convinced that construction and purchase of a new building would be just as cost effective as leasing.
“The savings from amalgamating into one building would basically pay for you know a new building.”
Saudino also stated he was not totally in favour of the old Legion building and would be more comfortable having it located in the downtown area.
But Laughren says he believes the costs of the agreement are reasonable.
“I think when you look at what we are presently paying on various leasehold agreements, this will be very close in line with that,” said Laughren.
The CDSSAB has a $52 million budget. The member municipalities pay $22.1 million.
According to the board minutes, the City of Timmins pays 53 per cent or $12.6 million out of a that municipal budget of $22.1 million. The nearest other municipality in terms on financial contribution is the Town of Kapuskasing, which is responsible for 9.84 per cent of the budget at $2.1 million.
Members of the DSSAB Board include Chair councillor Gary Scripnick, mayor Tom Laughren, Timmins councillors Pat Bamford, Mike Doody, Jack Slattery and Denis Saudino. The other six members of the group are from the other member municipalities.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Moose and car crash on Highway 101

The driver of this late model Chevy compact was transported to Timmins and District hospital, just after midnight Thursday (today), after the the vehicle was in collision with a moose on Highway 101 just west of the Bruce Street turnoff to South Porcupine. Witnesses say two moose were crossing the road at the time. One hit the car. The other continued on, in to the bush. Information on the the extent of the driver's injuries was not available, but the injuries were not believed to be life-threatening.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Timmins Retiree Registry created

Timmins city council has endorsed a plan by the Timmins Economic Development Corporation (TEDC) to recruit retirees who may like the idea of going back to work… for a few hours a week, or a few days a month. The plan was outlined at the city hall this week by Cathy Ellis, the director of community economic development for the TEDC.
“The TEDC has officially launched a retiree registry,” Ellis told council. She said this came from consultations with business owners and community leaders
“Employers need people from every walk of life to provide skills to help them grow and prosper,” said Ellis.
She quoted a Statistics Canada report, which estimates that one-fifth of Canadian retirees after 2002 have returned to work.
Ellis says more and more retirees are taking “official retirement” at a younger age and find it easier to return to the workplace on an occasional basis.
She says TEDC is creating a database of retirees who wish to return to work to bridge the “knowledge and skills gap” that exists in the local workforce.
Councillor Gary Scripnick commented there are many businesses in the city that can make use of “mature staff” at busier times of the year. Scripnick said he was confident there are many retirees looking “for something to do” before or after golf season.
Mayor Tom Laughren said he was pleased to see the initiative saying he speaks to a lot of men and women in their fifties and sixties who “have a lot of skills they can bring to the table.”

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

McGuinty's mining manifesto mystifies mayor

Timmins Mayor Tom Laughren says Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty’s “out of the blue” announcement about changes to the Mining Act, will present “huge challenges” to Northern Ontario.
On Monday, Premier McGuinty announced a plan to set aside roughly 225,000 sqaure kilometres of the boreal forest for permanent “protection” from such things as forestry and mining.
The land area is defined as the part of Ontario that is north of the 51st line of latitude. The De Beers new Victor Project diamond mine would fall into that area.
Laughren says he is not convinced it’s the best move for economic development of the north and is concerned that municipalities were not consulted.
“The premier is talking an awfully large area, especially an area that has a lot of potential for growth right now,” said Laughren.
“I haven’t seen his rationale for doing it other than I know there was a lobby group that has been lobbying for this,” he added.
In the announcement on Monday, McGuinty said there is a need to do things right. "Although the Northern Boreal region has remained virtually undisturbed since the retreat of the glaciers, change is inevitably coming to these lands. We need to prepare for development and plan for it. It's our responsibility as global citizens to get this right, and to act now," said the premier.
“This came right out of the blue. We had talked about the Mining Act and I was kind of led to believe through comments, I believe from the MNDM (Ministry of Northern Development and Mines) minister that this was not going to be opened,” Laughren recalled.
“You know creating this large tract of land in the boreal forest for carbon credits and that kind of stuff I think we have not had a lot of input from municipalities, from forestry companies, from mining companies, so I was a little bit taken aback today by it, sure.”
Laughren says it’s wrong to assume that land-use laws in the south can just as easily be applied in the North.
“There have been situations in the south where companies have gone in a destroyed the land, and of course, that upsets people. We seem to have a working relationship with companies in the North,” said the mayor. “To put us as the same as the south is going to have a huge challenge on Northern Ontario.”
Laughren says he has speaking with mayors of other large municipalities in the North such as Sudbury, North Bay and Sault Ste. Marie and a meeting is planned for the first week of August and he says the premier’s plan will be on the agenda.

Timmins Police urge internet vigilance

The Timmins Police Service reports more complaints have surfaced with respect to the internet scam involving fraudulent bank drafts.
The scam involves the sale of items over the net, where the purchaser “mistakenly” sends a bank draft for too much money to the seller. The purchaser then e-mails the seller asking for a refund of the so-called overpayment on the bank draft.
By the time the refund is sent, it becomes obvious that the original bank draft was bogus and the bank refuses to honour that original amount. It means the local seller is left with no money from the sale, as well as losing whatever money was sent back as a refund.
The Timmins Police Service is advising that it does not believe that the persons who are responsible for this scam are from the Timmins area or the names that they are using are real.
Online buyers and sellers are urged to be vigilant with online transactions and to be certain that all bank drafts and deposits are legitimate.

Timmins taxi rates go up

Taxi rates in Timmins are going up so that local cab companies can stay profitable in view of the increasing price of gasoline.
Timmins city council this week ratified the recommendation from the Timmins Police Service Board to increase both the drop-rate and the per-kilometre rate.
The drop-rate, which is when the driver starts the meter, is going up from $3.25 to $3.60. That’s a monetary increase of 35-cents; a percentage increase of 11.1 per cent. The kilometre rate is going up from $1.50 per kilometre to $1.75 per kilometre.
Senior citizens, aged 60 and over, qualify for a ten per cent discount. The flat rate to the airport from downtown Timmins is set at $25.00.
The highest flat rate, from Kamiskotia Lake to the airport, is set at $60.00. From downtown Timmins to the Kidd met site, the rate is $35.00. The rate to the Kidd minesite is $40.00.
While council was discussing the taxi rates, councillor John Curley expressed concern that too many cab drivers still smoke in their vehicles, which he says is wrong because the smell of the nicotine lingers inside the car.
The rate was set following meetings held with Vet’s Taxi, Beal Taxi and A1 Taxi and the Timmins Police Services Board.
City councillor Mike Doody, who is also a member of the police board, defended the rate hike. Doody said with the cost of insurance, licencing and fuel, none of the three cab companies in Timmins “is going to get overly wealthy” and that the rate hike will only help the local companies stay in business.

Timmins people forget about money in the bank

Every now and then it’s a treat to find loonies or twoonies you didn’t expect. Pull out a jacket that has been in the closet since last fall, and you might find a ten or twenty dollar bill you forgot about.
It’s even more of a treat if you’re one of the thousands of Canadians who have forgotten about money sitting in an old bank account.
Internet users can find out easily thanks to a Bank of Canada (BoC) website that lists hundreds of thousands of balances left sitting in old bank accounts.
The BoC website describes it as “a Canadian-dollar deposit or negotiable instrument, issued or held by a federally regulated bank or trust company. It can be in the form of a deposit account, bank draft, certified cheque, deposit receipt, money order, GIC, term deposit, credit card balance, or traveller's cheque.”
“When there has been no owner activity in relation to the balance for a period of 10 years, and the owner cannot be contacted by the institution holding it, the balance is turned over to the Bank of Canada, which acts as custodian on behalf of the owner.”
A search of the word “Timmins” turned up more than 20 entries. Travel Hos Timmins, which despite the unusual spelling, may refer to the old Travel Host Hotel, has an unclaimed balance of $853.09. The account has not been touched since 1978.
Timmins Furniture Market, address unknown, has a balance of $1,179.38 listed at the ScotiaBank on Pine South. The Timmins Sexual Assault Centre of a balance of $4.68. Timmins Motorama has an unclaimed balance of $36.95 at the downtown CIBC.
The Timmins Lodge No. 459 of the IOOF has a balance of $737.50, that hasn’t been touched in 12 years.
South Porcupine Kinsmen have $472.11 in an account that hasn’t been touched in 10 years.
At the end of December 2007, approximately 938,000 unclaimed balances, worth some $320 million, were on the Bank's books. Over 86% of these were under $500, representing 19% of the total value outstanding. The oldest balance dates back to 1900. Money is often left when people change banks, move to a new address or change jobs.
To find out if your name is listed, log on to the Bank of Canada website at
Click on “services” and then click on “unclaimed balances”.
Enter your last name and see what you might have. There are also instructions on how to recover any money in your name.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Deadman's Point

Deadman’s point is the final resting place for many of the victim’s of the Great Porcupine Fire that happened on this day, July 11, back in 1911. It’s known that 77 residents of the Porcupine, South Porcupine and Golden City lost their lives in a horrible forest fire that day, but there are estimates that more than 200 lives were lost, counting the many prospectors and homesteaders who lived nearby. The monument to the dead was erected by the Northern Ontario Fire Relief Committee of the Toronto board of trade.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

This aint no fairy tale!

The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) is issuing a warning about a black bears in the areas of Schumacher, Gold Centre and Gold Mine Road.
The MNR says sightings of a mama bear and three little cubs have been reported several times. The ministry is asking area residents to “take the necessary steps to prevent bear problems in their neighborhood.”
In a news release, the MNR says “most of the calls stem from non-natural food sources attracting the bears such as garbage. MNR asks residents to make certain that their garbage is secured in such a fashion that these bears are unable to break into the containers.”
The ministry also advises home owners to:
-Clean up and properly store garbage
-Clean barbecues
-Don’t leave pet food outside
-Remove birdfeeders

Boom stays on the river

The city of Timmins says the containment boom installed on the Mattagami River Tuesday will stay in place until Monday.
The boom was set up in response to a report from a city resident that some sort of oily substance or sheen could be seen on the river, in the area of the water filtration plant.
Timmins firefighters responded, but no one from that department, or the city, was able to determine what might be the problem. It was raining heavily at the time.
Fire chief Mike Pintar says the deployment of the containment boom was a precautionary measure given the importance of community safety and the city’s water supply.
Ontario Ministry of the Environment staff took water samples to determine whether there are any contaminants. The city says its water supply was not, and is not, in any danger.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Xstrata named in lawsuit - Times Exclusive

By LEN GILLIS ~ The Timmins Times
The Timmins Times has learned that Xstrata Copper Canada is the target of a $3 million lawsuit by Opawica Explorations of Vancouver over the access to mining lands near the Kidd mine in Timmins.
Opawica says “it has commenced an action in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice against Xstrata Copper Canada” so that Opawica can carry on with drilling a parcel of land outlined in a joint venture between Opawica and Xstrata’s predecessor, Falconbridge Limited. Opawica president Dan Clark told The Timmins Times this week that his company had rights to drill as parcel of land about two kilometres northwest of the Kidd mine.
“There are a few remaining drill targets we would like to drill before the closure of the Kidd Creek Mine,” said Clark.
“Basically we had proposed a ten-hole in-fill drill program under our joint venture agreement,” he said.
“We had stopped drilling there in 2003 looking for deep ore zones and we felt we had probably exhausted some of the larger target areas where you might find three to eight million tonne or greater ore zone.”
However, he believes there is still a worthwhile zinc, silver and lead deposit that hasn’t been fully explored. Clark says Xstrata has taken the position that the deposit is not worth the effort and is denying his company access to that land.
“I’ve been in this business 25 years and I’ve never seen such a position taken, by a junior company let alone a major mining company,” Clark said.
“They’ve told us you can’t access the land. You cannot drill. We will not provide you the database. We will never allow you access to that property. We have environmental concerns on the property. We have safety concerns,” Clark said.
“We asked ‘can you please advise us what they are. No we will not be talking to you anymore. Have a nice life!” Clark went on.
The Times asked Clark if he felt the concerns raised by Xstrata about environmental and safety were valid concerns.
“No. Absolutely not. We think that’s a purposeful misrepresentation by Xstrata. That’s our opinion.
“I’ve never seen such a position taken by a corporation. Especially one that has just come into Canada,” Clark continued.
“I mean I’m a longtime Canadian kinda guy you know. I love commerce. I love international commerce, but this entity Xstrata is owned by Swiss bankers and I don’t know what their mandate is, but it certainly isn’t to engender positive relationships as their annual report says, let me tell you that.”
Clark says the lawsuit was a last resort because he fully expected to work out an arrangement to access the property.
“There are areas where we can access the property by road, where we do not have to pass through the footprint of the mine, but once again they have told us they will not allow any access, they will not allow any exploration to be conducted,” he said, adding that Xstrata has indicated it is not interested in pursuing more work.
“They’re standing very firm that they don’t believe the orebody is economic, nor do they think there’s anymore drill targets. Clearly that’s not the case,” Clark said.
“We’ve commenced an action. We now have to make a case for damages,” Clark told The Times.
“We’re looking for $1 million in punitive damages. And we want $2.2 million in recovery of the monies we’ve spent on the property to date if access is actually denied.
So we’re looking for 3.2 million,” he said.
Emily Russell, a communications official with Xstrata Copper’s corporate office has confirmed the company was notified of the lawsuit and says Xstrata intends to defend itself. No other comment was offered.

Timmins police continue ATV crackdown

Timmins Police are continuing a crackdown on the use of ATVs (All Terrain Vehicles), quads, and dirt-bike style motorcycles in city parks and nature trails.
There will be a zero tolerance approach to any offenders caught riding their ATVs and dirt bikes in local parks and conservation areas says Timmins Police Service Sergeant Bill Aird.
Aird says the vehicles present a danger to the many hikers and families who use the parks.
“The City of Timmins as well as many area non-profit groups spends a lot of time and money to keep these parks open for residents to enjoy. Persons operating off road vehicles in the parks cause damage and are a danger to people enjoying the benefits of the park,” he said.
“A zero tolerance approach by the Timmins Police Service will be taken as well when persons are drinking alcohol in our parks, causing mischief or having fires,” Aird said. “The City parks are not for consuming alcohol, causing mischief and having fires. Persons in contravention to this will be charged,” he added.
Police have initiated their own ATV patrols throughout the city to enforce the laws pertaining to ATVs.
Aird says patrols will include all parks from Bannerman Park in Porcupine to the White Water Park in South Porcupine. Schumacher Lions Park, Hollinger Park, as well as all other obvious parks, conservation areas and nature trails in the Timmins area.
Earlier this year, Timmins Police issued an advisory that the streets of the city are off limits to ATVs and other off-road vehicles.
Police say ATV’s cannot be operated on any city street, even if the user is heading out to the nearest bush trail. ATV users must trailer their machine to a remote bush area where they can then be offloaded for riding.
ATVs are allowed on crown land in remote bush areas, but riders must carry appropriate documents wsith respect to licencing, ownership and insurance.
Aird says anyone witnessing off-road vehicles in the parks or on the nature trails should contact police at 264-1201“for immediate action.”

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Oil spill by Mattagami River

Firefighters and Timmins city workers set up a floating boom on the Mattagami River this morning, in response to some sort of oily substance spill at the Timmins Water Treatment Plant. The boom was set out to contain whatever substance might flow into the river. No further information was available at Noon today. (click photo for full size)

Monday, July 7, 2008

Timmins man injured in ATV crash

A Timmins man was transported to Timmins and District Hospital this afternoon after he was in a crash with his ATV machine in one of the gravel pits near Highway 655. A witness told The Times the man came over the edge of the pit, hit a rock and flipped his machine. A companion with a cell phone notified emergency services. Timmins police are investigating the crash.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Brush fire season

Timmins Firefighters joined the Ministry of Natural Resources this evening to put down a brush fire in Murphy Township,just north of the city. An MNR helicopter with a 250 gallon water bucket was also involved in the fight. The blaze was brought under control in less than an hour.

Heart of Gold Triathlon

Scores of athletes gathered on the beach at Gillies Lake in Timmins today for the annual Heart of Gold Triathlon in support of KidSport. The first photo shows the participants just seconds before the starting horn. The second photo shows them just a second afterwards.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Robbery Suspects

Timmins Police Service has arrested two local residents in connection with a robbery that occurred at the Canadian Tire gas bar on Waterloo Road back in March. Police say Stephanie Hardy-Souckey, 26, and Michael Joseph Soukey, 29, both of Timmins are both charged with robbery. In addition, police say the man is charged with possession of a weapon and wearing a disguise with intent to commit an offence.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Carlo Cattarello Funeral

A Royal Canadian Legion honour guard stood quietly at attention in the noonday sun Thursday as the flag-draped casket with the body of Carlo Cattarello Sr. left St. Joachim’s church for the last time.
Cattarello died in Timmins on Sunday. He was 95. Cattarello was well-known across the North and throughout Canada as a gifted athlete, coach and mentor.
A Catholic mass was celebrated by Deacon Michel Néron of St. Joachim’s Parish and Father Mitch Sliwa of Sacred Heart Parish. Music and hymns during the mass were sung by Chantal Delorme of Timmins.
During a brief sermon, Deacon Néron mentioned he was more than impressed with Cattarello.
“What a man. What a life,” said Néron adding that “If we could only live as fully as he did, what a change we could make in this world.”
A eulogy was presented by Cattarello’s longtime friend and associate Terry Talentino of North Bay who described him as a man who never sought out awards or honours but was bestowed with many. Talentino, who is also exceedingly well-known in the Canadian hockey community, praised Cattarello for demonstrating the best of sportsmanship
“He taught us how to win with grace, to lose with dignity and always to respect others,” Talentino said.
“He really cared about the people and the community he lived in,” he added.
Talentino said he could sum up Cattarello’s life in one word – respect, saying Cattarello gave it and earned it.
He also recalled that Cattarello had taught him long ago the value of coaching and mentoring and working with young people, telling him “If you only touch one person in your life you’ve accomplished something.”
As the mass came to a close, a final piece of music was played; Pavarotti’s stirring version of the hymn Panis Angelicus (The Bread of Angels).

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Trailer park fire

A mobile home at the Carr's trailer park in the west end of Timmins was destroyed during the supper hour today. Firefighters from Timmins and Mountjoy responded to the home burning on Wolf Road. Fire officials say the occupants of the home escaped without injury. There was no immediate information on the cause of the fire.

Canada Day in Timmins

Canada Day was a busy one in Timmins with plenty to do. There was the annual flag walk from city hall to the Schumacher Flag Park lead by 'Mr. Canada' Karl Habla. There was a Canada Day party at the Shania Twain Centre, where hundreds of residents enjoyed pancakes, birthday cake and the chance to dress up for Canada,like these three cuties. The other big event of the day was the unveiling of the the Porcupine Miners Memorial at the McIntyre Park, a tribute to all the miners who have lost their lives on the job in Timmins over the years and a continuing tribute to those who work in the local mining industry.