Friday, August 29, 2008

"If you're not feeling well, you might see a doctor'

The elderly woman who died recently at the Timmins and District Hospital (TDH) had the listeria bacteria in her body, but as yet no one can say if that was indeed the cause of death. She is the one and only known case of listeria infection, connected to the Maple Leaf Foods listeria, who was brought to TDH.
That was the crux of the news conference held in Timmins Wednesday afternoon, that essentially confirmed the front-page story published in The Timmins Times on Wednesday and in The Times news blog ( on Tuesday.
Hospital and health officials in Timmins have confirmed what The Timmins Times revealed on Wednesday, that the Porcupine Health Unit (PHU) is investigating three cases of listeria within its jurisdiction including the case of the woman who died.
“Test results on an elderly female patient that died here at the hospital have been confirmed positive for listeria monocytongenes bacterium. Further testing by the Toronto Public Health lab has identified that his strain is the one that is linked to the Maple Leaf Foods outbreak,” said Esko Vainio, the chief executive officer of the Timmins and District Hospital.
Vainio says the patient did not develop listeria at TDH, but was sent to the hospital from a nearby community.
“As usual, our hospital’s health care team provided professional and compassionate care for this patient who was referred here from another community in our service area,” said Vainio. Neither he nor officials of the health unit would identify the patient, or what community she was from, for privacy reasons.
He added that the hospital could not say for certain that listeria was the cause of death.
“The patient had multiple health problems and obviously it’s really a clinical judgment as to what exactly caused the unfortunate demise of this elderly lady and we do not have that formal confirmation,” said Vainio
“We understand that the coroner’s office may become involved in cases such as this,” Vainio continued, “therefore we cannot comment further about this patient or where this patient is from.”
Jodie Russell, the hospital’s Coordinator of Infection Control explained that blood samples are taken at the hospital and all unusual findings are reported to the Ontario Ministry of Health and the health unit as a matter of record.
“There are designated communicable diseases that must be reported,” said Russell. All such information is entered into a provincial database.
The listeria sample from the deceased woman is the only listeria sample discovered this year at TDH. The two other listeria cases being investigated by the health unit do not involve the hospital Russell said.
Vainio also revealed that hospitals and old age homes were notified early about the concern over tainted meats.
“Our food service staff disposed of all suspected meat products a week before the public recall, so we do not expect any problems for anything that was served here,” said Vainio.
Vainio said he had no explanation about the early warning except that it involved public health agencies and Maple Leaf Foods.
“I can’t speak to that. We’re glad that we had advance notice. I wish everybody had advance notice, but it’s not in our hands.”
In the meantime, Bob Bell the health unit’s manager of public health inspection says his team will continue to ensure that tainted meat products are removed from the public domain.
With respect to concerns about individual health, Bell said it’s a matter a personal choice.
“We do normally get calls from people regarding symptoms and our direction is to seek medical attention if somebody is not feeling well,” said Bell.(photo at right)
“As public health inspectors, we are not medical practitioners and if a person is not feeling well, they are the best judge and they should be seeking medical attention and get in contact with their family physician,” he added.
“One of the problems with food-borne illness is that the symptoms are very similar to flu-like symptoms and food-borne illnesses are truly under reported; not just in Canada, it’s a world wide thing,” said Bell.
The TDH emergency department is prepared to handle any personal health concerns according to Vainio.
“And our expectation as a hospital is that probably we already have people presenting here and will have people presenting here who are concerned about their symptoms. In our emergency department, it’s a fact of life,” said Vainio.
“The hospital and the health unit jointly wish to express our sincere condolences to the family of this unfortunate lady who passed here in July,” Vainio added.

Bisson launches NDP leadership bid

Timmins-James Bay MPP Gilles Bisson made it official Thursday as he launched his bid to become the next leader of Ontario’s New Democratic Party by saying it’s time the party adopted a culture of success that will put it on the path to forming government.
The well-known and outspoken 51-year-old Timmins native made the announcement to a news conference in Toronto, before moving on to make the same announcement in Sudbury.
Bisson is vying to replace the outgoing NDP leader Howard Hampton, who had led the Ontario new democrats for a dozen years, but was not able to win enough seats to form a government or become the official opposition. Hampton announced earlier this year he would be resigning the leadership in favour of spending more time with his family.
“Under my leadership we’ll adopt a positive attitude by cultivating a winning spirit and laying the foundation for a culture of success,” Bisson told gathered reporters representing all the major news organizations in Toronto Thursday morning. He said it was important to make his announcement in southern Ontario and Northern Ontario on the same day. “I am running to be the voice for all Ontarians – urban and rural, north and south – because the social, environmental and economic challenges we face together do not distinguish between where you live in our province.”
Bisson pointed out that the NDP has always been viewed as the party people trust most when it comes to protecting social programs. However, voters have been reluctant to vote for the party in great numbers as they worry the NDP does not take fiscal policy as seriously.
“You can’t build social programs without a strong economy”, said Bisson. ”Wealth creation is absolutely necessary to help create jobs and provides the funding to strengthen social programs.”
“Inside the party it’s time to debate economic issues such as how we grow a strong economy, taxation and budget management. It’s time we show Ontarians that New Democrats can manage your money, as we have successfully done in other provinces under NDP administrations.”
Building a culture of success begins with nurturing the grassroots of the party, Bisson said.
“Let’s not kid ourselves, we’ve go a lot of tough work ahead. Under my leadership I am prepared to take a fresh look at how we conduct ourselves as a party and that begins by granting more autonomy to our riding associations in terms of fundraising, candidate recruitment and developing new policy ideas.”
Should Bisson be elected leader of the NDP, he would be the first Franco-Ontarian to lead a major political party in this province.
Bisson was first elected as the provincial representative for this area on October 1 of 1990. He had held the seat successfully in every provincial election since then.

Timmins chamber continues advocacy role

Timmins businessman, Rob Galloway, is looking forward to his year as the new president of the Timmins Chamber of Commerce so that the organization can continue its advocacy role, especially in the case of proposed changes to the Ontario Mining Act.
“Right now we’re working with the TEDC (Timmins Economic Development Corporation) and the city, to put together our comments on paper to the review process and we have until October 15 when that closes,” Galloway told Timmins reporters this week.
Galloway is referring to the plan by the Ontario government to overhaul the Mining Act insofar as it affects the exploration process for things such as prospecting, staking claims and carrying out diamond drill exploration work.
He added that the chamber is canvassing larger corporate members such as local mining companies to be sure their comments and concerns are included. “It’s critical for Timmins,” he said. “It’s the biggest industry we have obviously. Things are going very well at the moment and that’s good news. But we want to make sure that continues,” said Galloway.
He added that the chamber wants to be certain that any changes to the act work for the mining industry and the mining exploration industry.
“We also want it to work the for First Nations communities that we have close links with,” said Galloway.
He added that the mining concern will be more than apparent at the Chamber’s annual meeting on October 1, when Chris Hodgson, the president of the Ontario Mining Association will be a guest speaker.
That dinner will also be the final official function for outgoing chamber president Marilyn Wood, who says she is pleased with what has been accomplished in the past year. Business advocacy and information sharing are the two issues that Wood believes were the best part of her tenure as chamber president. She also conceded that the work of the chamber has raised its profile in the city.
“I think that we have definitely raised the profile because we have been able to supply very high quality information and have done a lot of research and background work,” said Wood.
“I think our businesses at the very least look to us for an opinion and that opinion always takes into account how the businesses will be impacted by various decisions at various government levels,” she added.
“Often they are opinions on political issues and so it may appear that its political but I think its more it is a response to the politics.”

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Cause of death may never be known

Although the woman who died at Timmins and District Hospital tested positive for the strain of listeria tied to the Maple Leaf Foods outbreak, it is possible it may never be known if that listeria was the cause of her death.
Timmins and District Hospital chief executive officer Esko Vainio told Timmins reporters Wednesday that any formal determination as to the patient’s cause of death would have to come from the coroner’s office. It was an indication that no autopsy has been performed on the deceased patient.
Ontario regional coroner Dr. David Eden told The Timmins Time he could not comment on whether an autopsy was performed because no name has been released.
“What I can tell you is, if we had received a request, we would act on it,” Eden said.
“There is a protocol for investigating infectious disease deaths. It is in the nature of infectious disease deaths that most of the diagnosis is made before death and generally when we do an autopsy in an infectious disease death, it’s because we’re not sure,” he added.
During Wednesday’s news conference, Vainio told reporters “the patient had multiple health problems” adding that no formal finding was made whether the Maple Leaf Foods strain of listeria contributed to that death.
Eden says if an autopsy is to be done, the request will have to come from a public health agency, such as the Porcupine Health Unit. “The lead role is with public health,” he said.
“To give you an example, with SARS, public health has the authority to order an autopsy, but they don’t have the authority to order it over the family’s objections.”
Eden explained that a coroner does have the right to order an autopsy over the family’s objections, but the coroner also has to weigh whether the medical knowledge learned would be beneficial.
Eden added that an autopsy that occurs after embalming and burial is not likely to reveal any new or startling information with respect to an infectious disease.
“I would think that the best information for diagnosing listeriosis is the information that was collected prior to death,” said Eden.
“Listeriosis is a condition that can be, and is, reliably diagnosed before death, so an autopsy would add very little useful information to that,” he said.
“If the most accurate test is a blood culture done during life, and you have that, why would you do a blood culture after death, which is less reliable?” he asked.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Listeria Update - Timmins and Porcupine Health Unit

An elderly woman who died recently at the Timmins and District Hospital (TDH) had the listeria bacteria in her body, but as yet no one can say if that was indeed the cause of death.
That was the crux of the news conference held in Timmins Wednesday afternoon, that essentially confirmed the front-page story published in The Timmins Times on Wednesday and here, on The Times newsblog on Tuesday. (see story below)
In that story, The Times revealed the Porcupine Health Unit (PHU) was investigating three cases of listeria within its jurisdiction including the case of the woman who died.
“Test results on an elderly female patient that died here at the hospital have been confirmed positive for listeria monocytongenes bacterium. Further testing by the Toronto Public Health lab has identified that his strain is the one that is linked to the Maple Leaf Foods outbreak,” said Esko Vainio, the hospitals’ executive director. (photo at right) Vainio says the patient did not develop listeria at TDH, but was sent to the hospital from a nearby community.
“As usual, our hospital’s health care team provided professional and compassionate care for this patient who was referred here from another community in our service area,” said Vainio. Neither he nor officials of the health unit would identify the patient or what community she was from.
He added that the hospital could not say for certain that listeria was the cause of death.
“The patient had multiple health problems and obviously it’s really a clinical judgment as to what exactly caused the unfortunate demise of this elderly lady and we do not have that formal confirmation,” said Vainio
Vainio says a formal post-mortem examination would be required.
“We understand that the coroner’s office may become involved in cases such as this,” Vainio continued, “therefore we cannot comment further about this patient or where this patient is from.”
Jodie Russell, the hospital’s Coordinator of Infection Control explained that blood samples are taken at the hospital and all unusual findings are reported to the Ontario Ministry of Health and the health unit as a matter of record.
“There are designated communicable diseases that must be reported,” said Russell. All such information is entered into a provincial database.
The listeria sample from the deceased woman is the only listeria sample discovered this year at TDH. The two other listeria cases being investigated by the health unit do not involve the hospital Russell said.
“The hospital and the health unit jointly wish to express our sincere condolences to the family of this unfortunate lady who passed here in July,” said Vainio.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Three local listeria cases, one death confirmed

At least one person within the jurisdiction of the Porcupine Health Unit (PHU) has died and the death is linked to the current outbreak of listeria, The Timmins Times learned exclusively on Tuesday.
Bob Bell, the manager of public health inspection for the PHU, says the official cause of death has not been determined.
“We have three cases of listeria,” Bell confirmed on Tuesday. He says information is passed to the health unit from the Ontario ministry of health. The health unit then investigates all the details surrounding the disease.
The first local case, Bell says, was indeed listeria, but it was not linked to the outbreak, because it is a different “strain” of listeria than the one linked the current outbreak involving the Maple Leaf Foods plant in Toronto.
In the second case, Bell says the health unit is waiting for more test results.
“The initial test was positive for listeria. It’s going through the additional testing to determine what family grouping or strain that it falls into,” he said.
“The third is the same strain linked to the outbreak, with that third strain, that was the strain that was linked to a death in our region,” Bell told The Times.
“There was a death. It is linked to the outbreak. But we cannot say it is the cause of death,” said Bell.
He said the final word on that will have to come from a medical examiner or the coroner.
It was not revealed at press time Tuesday whether a post-mortem examination was to be carried out.
There is no official information on the identity of the deceased person. The Times has learned that she was an older woman who was brought to Timmins and District Hospital, where she died. The Timmins and District Hospital said Tuesday a formal statement will likely be issued today (Wednesday) outlining details of the next steps in the case.
Bell says inspectors from the health unit do a follow up in every case where listeria was identified, to try to find out what foods where eaten, where the food was purchased and whether the patient is involved in a job where food-handling is part of the work.
Bell admits that it is a long and tedious process, considering that the incubation period for listeria can be as long as 70 days. Symptoms include headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and a persistent fever according to information on the Health Canada website.
He says health unit inspectors are also working hand in hand with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and other health agencies to ensure they remove any and all samples of tainted meats identified with the Maple Leaf Foods outbreak that was revealed one week ago.
Bell says the health unit has joined with other agencies in urging consumers not to consume any meats that they’re not sure of. “If you’re in doubt, you throw it out,” he said.
He says an easy way to determine the safety of the meat is to look for the batch number involved in the Maple Leaf Foods case. There will be a meat inspection stamp with a crown on the package, with a number. The number is 97B. Bell says consumers can also check the “best before” date, which will also have a batch indicator.
“There will be the best before date and the word ‘Est’, short for establishment and there will be a number there. And 97B is the identifying number for the plant where that product was produced,” said Bell.
Bell says consumers may choose to bring any meats back to the store where they bought it or simply toss the meat in the garbage. Bell admitted in some cases, it may mean losing a few dollars worth of groceries but it is nowhere near the value of one’s continued good health.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Fire call on Feldman Road

Firefighters were dispatched to the scene of the Verville Enterprises lumber yard on Feldman Road just after six oclock this evening after numerous 9-1-1 reports of smoke and flames. Firefighters from Timmins and Mountjoy halls arrived to find a garage-type structure fully involved with smoke and flames. No other buildings were nearby. The cause of the fire is as yet not revealed. There does not appear to be any injuries.

City's mistakes cost millions says developer

Timmins development consultant Lionel Bonhomme told city council this week he is concerned the city is spending millions of dollars for “remedial work” on the sewer system in the west end.
In a 10-minute presentation before council, Bonhomme said the West-End sewer system was only supposed to be applied to the Canadian Tire – Home Depot development.
Since that time, several other developments have occurred along Riverside Drive that are overloading the sewer system and Bonhomme says the city is struggling to find a solution. He says Timmins taxpayers will pay dearly for it.
Bonhomme asked several tough questions. But he doesn’t yet have the answers he wants. Mayor Tom Laughren committed to having answers for the Sept. 8 council meeting, but Laughren had to back out of that when he learned there could be legal issues.
Bonhomme says he wants answers on how and why the city has allowed extra development to occur in the West-End when there is every indication that there is not enough sewage capacity, and he’s asking who is responsible for the spending millions of tax dollars to correct a problem that could have been prevented.
“As a taxpayer, I am concerned about the source of funding for this remedial work, particularly given the history of this development, and the concerns raised by the city’s engineering department, since at least January of 2006, that appear to have fallen on deaf ears.”
Bonhomme says there are several crucial questions:
-When did the city know that there was a capacity problem with sewers in the West-End?
-Was this before or after the city issued building permits for Home Depot and Canadian Tire?
-How accurate were the two engineering studies the city paid for in 2006, that were supposed to outline sewage capacity requirements?
-Did the city administration ignore the engineering reports in favour of pushing ahead with development in the West End?
-Why won’t city administrator Joe Torlone release those reports if the Ministry of The Environment says the reports are public documents?
-Why are Timmins taxpayers paying for remedial work on the overloaded sewage system when the responsibility may lie with others?
-Will the city go ahead and take over the “private” sewage system on the Canadian Tire – Home Depot property, knowing that it is not up to standard?
Bonhomme says he is further concerned that the city budgeted roughly $2 million for the remedial work, but the tenders for that work came back at more than $7 million.
To back up his claims, Bonhomme referred to city hall minutes of the city’s Community Development Committee over the past two years.
“In July of 2008, last month, tenders sent out for remedial work on the west end, closed, Bids came in over the budget approved the by city” Bonhomme said.
Mayor Laughren alluded to the sewer line project Monday night, saying: “That project will be going back out for re-tender because it did come in high and they’re going to change the scope of the work so that will probably not be available until some time in September.”
Bonhomme says the 2006 engineering reports must be made public to see who is responsible for the high costs.
“I have requested that the city provide me with a copy of the engineering studies prepared by Martin (B.H. Martin) and Richards (J.L.Richards) and have been advised by the Ministry of the Environment that these studies are considered to be public documents. The CAO has indicated he has no obligation to provide these studies,” said Bonhomme.
City councillor Denis Saudino said he hoped that Bonhomme would get answers. He said the city has to be open and transparent.
“I think it has to be accountable to the public, that’s our duty, that’s our responsibility as councillors and that’s our responsibility as a city,” said Saudino. “I don’t want any innuendos out there.”
“I want to clear it up. I want the public to be assured their water bill and the sewer bill that they’re paying is to pay for the services and not for something that’s inappropriate, shall we say, and I’ll leave it that because we don’t know anything else at this point,” Saudino continued.
Bonhomme told council he hopes to get answers about the engineering report and suggested he would be willing to have his lawyer accept the reports “in confidence”
At that point, city administrator Joe Torlone interrupted.
“My advice to council would be not to commit to that,” said Torlone. “This is a legal matter,” he said to Bonhomme. “You’ve drawn in aspects that involve a legal action . Before we even submit the report to council, I will have it vetted by our lawyer,” said Torlone.
Bonhomme told The Timmins Times he is worried that serious errors in judgement may have been made at city hall.
“I don’t know the answers until I see the (engineering) reports and the administration answers me.”
Asked by The Times if he had “axes to grind” with city hall, Bonhomme said:
“I am doing this as a taxpayer. Yes, I do have axes to grind with the city, but this deputation was strictly related to the west end development and I went there as a taxpayer. Should we, the taxpayers, be subsidizing development?”

Timmins wants a break on fuel costs

Timmins city councillor Pat Bamford is going on the premise that you’ll never know unless you ask.
City council has endorsed Bamford’s idea of approaching the higher levels of government for some financial assistance on the price of fuel. The city is expected to pass a formal resolution on September 8.
Bamford mentioned the idea this week as city council was discussing how the price of fuel is affecting all city operations that use fuel, such as public works and the city transit system.
“The cost of gas at the pumps has probably gone up somewhere by 30 or 40 per cent in this budget year,” Bamford told council.
“The senior governments are reaping a windfall and the municipalities are hurting, and it’s patently unfair,” he added.
“I’m just wondering if its worth our while to request other municipalities to support a resolution from us to these senior governments to ask for one-time relief. I suspect gas will continue going up. I can’t imagine it going up at that rapid rate. This is a unique situation and it think it calls for a request for one-time assistance to offset some of the costs,” said Bamford.
Mayor Tom Laughren endorsed the idea and suggested that Timmins council pass a resolution and distribute it to all other Ontario municipalities in a bid to seek united support.
Laughren noted that in a discussion with the city treasurer on Monday it was revealed the city had been paying 82-cents a litre for gasoline back in January of 2007. The mayor admitted the city is struggling with the higher cost of fuel and pleading the case to higher government is certainly worth the try.
“It’s a huge challenge for sure,” said the mayor.

Timmins approves $15,000 for traffic study

City council has approved putting out a $15,000 RFP (request for proposal) to have a formal traffic study done for the area of the Wilson Avenue and Cameron Street intersection in Timmins.
Council’s action follows a report this week from city engineer Luc Duval, who said a preliminary informal study of the intersection shows there is indeed a traffic congestion problem.
His report comes after a suggestion made earlier this summer by city councillor Mike Doody who said the Cameron-Wilson intersection presented a serious problem.
Duval says more and more motorists are using Wilson Avenue because it has no traffic lights or stop signs.
Westbound motorists then use Cameron Street to move over to Algonquin Boulevard if they want to go farther west along Algonquin, or north along Theriault Boulevard.
Duval told council that the study could explore several options for the intersection including a four-way stop, which he admitted was a cheap and easy solution.
The downside to that, said his report, was that it would severely disrupt the traffic flow and volume of traffic moving west and north as peak times. Duval also indicated that a four-way stop would create excessively long line-ups on Wilson, “depending on driver reaction times.”
The study will also consider making Cameron Street a one-way street northbound, which would also be low-cost and have the advantage of moving a larger volume of cars off Wilson and onto Algonquin. The downside to that would be a severe restriction for Algonquin traffic wanting to move south or east along Wilson.
Duval told council he had money within his budget for consultants’ work that had not yet been tapped into and he would be able to absorb the cost of the study.
Councillor Bill Gvozdanovic was against the idea of hiring a consultant.
“I really don’t agree with paying somebody $15,000 to come here and all they’re gonna do is go stand down there….” said Gvozdanovic, adding that traffic counts and experimenting with traffic light times is something that could be done by the city’s engineering staff.
Councillor Mike Doody spoke in favour of the study idea saying he had received several reactions from the coffee-shop crowd
“You have no idea how many ‘traffic consultants’ have talked to me since the last council meeting,” councillor Mike Doody joked, adding that the overall reaction has been positive that council is taking a serious look at the traffic situation.
Doody suggested the city might also look at the length of times of the various traffic lights and advanced-turning lights on Algonquin Boulevard.
Council voted in favour of spending the money to hire a consultant for $15,000. Gvozdanovic was alone in voting against the move.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hazardous waste event in the fall

Timmins residents will be able to get rid of their hazardous household waste products, likely in September or October. A firm date has not yet been determined.
City council this week authorized its waste management department to set up a one-day hazardous waste collection event in the fall.
The Municipal Hazardous Special Waste (MSHW) program will accept such things as paint, pesticides, household solvents, waste oil and gasoline, old oil filters, auto batteries, household batteries, prescription medicines, pool chemicals, wood preservatives, oven cleaners and aerosal containers.
“We currently have no diversion program in place,” public works supervisor Chris Bazinet told city council this week.
He admitted that many hazardous wastes are being illegally dumped at the Deloro landfill or poured down toilets and drains.
Bazinet explained that a waste disposal company, specially equipped and licensed to handle hazardous wastes would come into the city and set up at a central location, such as a large arena or parking lot.
“Residents will be able to bring their MSHW at no charge,” said Bazinet, who added that similar events are held in towns and cities across the province.
“We are one of the last remaining communities in Ontario not hosting this event,” he said.
The cost of the program is roughly $70,000 to bring in a licenced hazardous waste company to accept the products. The cost of the program will be offset by the province by 60 percent through a program called Stewardship Ontario, said Bazinet. That means the city’s contribution is $28,000.
“Should the event prove to be successful we would like to review the possibility of a year-round program at the Deloro landfill,” he added.
Bazinet said the program is well-worth the money is the sense that it will keep hazardous wastes out of the landfill and raise awareness among the public about the need to dispose of hazardous wastes in a proper manner.
Mayor Tom Laughren noted that disposal of hazardous waste is something he is approached about by city residents on a regular basis. “This program is long overdue.”

Parking Rates Changing Downtown

The city and the Downtown Timmins BIA are working together on a new plan to improve parking in the downtown core and in the perimeter area that surrounds the downtown.
The city has passed changes to the parking bylaw to allow for an increase in the time people can park at downtown on-street meters, along with an increase in the cost of parking at the downtown on-street meters.
The new rate for most downtown on-street meters will go from 50-cents per hour to 75-cents per hour. The meters will allow the user to buy time in 15-minute increments.
Downtown meters will have a new two-hour time limit.
In cases were meters are not located in the immediate downtown core, the price of parking will remain the same at 50-cents per hour.
For those who like to purchase monthly passes, there is something of a bargain for the city parking lot at Knox Street and Kirby Avenue, just south of the TeleTech parking lot.
The monthly parking fee of $40 per month at that lot only, has been reduced to $10 per month. Monthly parking passes are other lots, which may be purchased on a lot by lot basis, are still at $40.
Changes to the parking bylaw also allow that those wth proper handicapped parking permits may park for two hours free at all meters and municipal parking lots.

City coping with rising fuel costs

Spending at Timmins City hall is on track at the halfway point through the year, but city treasurer Bernie Christian told city council this week that fuel prices could be $300,000 to $400,000 over budget -- but that the cost overruns could be absorbed. That news didn’t go over as well as it might.
City councillor Bill Gvozdanovic said he found the treasurer’s report surprising and confusing.
“I can’t understand how we can say we can be in line with the budget when we anticipate our fuel costs are going to be three to four hundred thousand dollars over… that’s a one per cent tax increase.”
He then asked Christian how it could be possible to find room to have that increase absorbed into various city budgets.
“All departments are cutting back,” Christian explained. “ Some items, maybe they can do without until next year…they’re going to make do.”
Gvozdanovic said he was concerned that so much money was being cut by administration without input from members of city council.
“If there’s items being cut by administration then that has to come back to council,” Gvozdanovic declared.
“We approved the budget for 2008 and we spent all that time in budget meetings, okay, and then all of a sudden we’re talking about a three or four hundred thousand dollar increase in fuel, and you guys turn around and say ‘we’ll be okay’,” he said.
“To me it sends a message that there’s three or four hundred thousand dollars that’s either been cut somewhere that we don’t know about,” Gvozdanovic added.
Mayor Tom Laughren suggested that the city’s administration was merely letting council there was a problem with fuel costs and was taking steps to adjust for it.
“And I would think that’s the prudent thing to do,” the mayor said.
“Well you know what your worship, I disagree 100 per cent with that,” said Gvozdanovic.
City administrator Joe Torlone told council that the savings of $300,000 to $400,000 is not coming from one or two major projects.
“We shave a little bit here, we shave a little be there,” Torlone told the councillors.
“It could be the sum of a hundred different initiatives,” Torlone explained, adding that if council wishes, he can bring in every last dollar-saving document.
He added that each department was looking at savings, but no important items or programs were being cut. “It might be one less trip for training, or something like that,” Torlone said.
City engineer Luc Duval explained that the city’s road paving budget will allow his department to save upwards of $200,000 because the roads budget was big enough it had a bit of “cushion” in it to absorb extra costs.
Duval said the intention of his department was to apply any leftover funds to major road patching work such as the Kamiskotia Highway. He added that public works employees have contributed to many costs savings. As an example, Duval said city workers who go to work in the Kamiskotia area can now take advantage of portable toilets, so they don’t have to come back to the shop for lunch.
That statement surprised some city councillors.
“I can’t understand that if you’re working at Kamiskotia and you have to go to the washroom, or for lunch, that people would drive all the way back to the shop… is that because there’s no washroom facility out there?” asked Gvozdanovic.
Public works supervisor Chris Bazinet admitted that was the situation “at one time”.
“Okay, so at one point in time when they started the job and they were working at Kamiskotia, all the trucks would come back for lunch?,” asked Gvozdanovic.
“Yes,” said Bazinet.
“That’s like a half an hour drive here, half an hour for lunch…you’re losing two hours of production…”
“That was past practice, yes,” said Bazinet.
Bazinet said once the issue was identified as a problem, the issue was resolved.
“The employees at public works know when they’re wasting money… and they don’t necessarily like it,” said Bazinet adding that when changes are brought in to make things better, “you really get a positive response.”
City councillor Denis Saudino was also surprised at the information about Kamiskotia…
“My one question is on this thing about coming back for lunch from Kamiskotia, can you believe, what… what took so long?” asked Saudino.
“Sorry, if I may interject, I don’t believe that was standard practice all the time,” said city administrator Joe Torlone.
“I think we’re carrying this a bit too far, I don’t think it’s an everyday occurrence,” said Torlone.
City Engineer Luc Duval suggested that of the hundreds of activities carried out by public works, most are done well, and that the Kamiskotia lunch break was mentioned only to show that things are being improved on.
Among other spending considerations at the halfway point in the city’s budget, hydro costs are at 56.5 per cent. This is a drop from the same time last year, when hydro costs were at 59.8 per cent.
Natural gas costs at the halfway mark were at 60.1 per cent, which compares with 68.2 per cent at the same time last year.
Wages and benefits for city workers were pegged at 48.7 per cent of the budget, even though 50 per cent of the payroll had been processed.

Monday, August 18, 2008

OPP seize truck and give it away

For the first time ever in Ontario, or Canada for that matter, the government has seized the personal vehicle of a repeat drunk driver and forfeited it to a community interest group.
Timmins was the first location in the country where Ontario Attorney General Chris Bentley was able to seize and then forfeit that vehicle.
The event took place at the South Porcupine Ontario Provincial Police detachment in Timmins, Monday. The vehicle, a GMC 2500SL pickup truck, was seized from an Iroquois Falls man, who has had three impaired driving convictions in the past ten years. Bentley gave the keys of the vehicle to Anne Leonard, the Executive Director of the Ontario Community Council on Impaired Driving.
The action follows the Ontario government’s new civil forfeiture law, which is part of the Safer Roads for a Safer Ontario Act.
“This is the first time that the vehicles owned by repeat drinking drivers are being seized by the government under civil forfeiture laws. It is a very strong and very powerful message to those who think they can do what they like , who think they can repeatedly drink and drive,” said Bentley.
“But if you drink and drive, you’re gonna lose your ride,” he added.
Bentley explained that a conviction is not necessary. He said the new law may be applied in the case of anyone who has “been suspended for a drinking and driving offence two or more times in the previous ten years, you can be subject to having your vehicle and seized and lost forever”, Bentley told reporters.
The move was applauded by Anne Leonard, (below) the executive director of the Ontario Community Council on Impaired Driving, which runs Ontario’s well-known Arrive Alive-Drive Sober campaign.
“We are glad to see it off the road and not being driven by a repeat drunk driver,” she said, holding up the ownership papers for the truck. She added that the vehicle will be used to raise awareness among high school students about the many downsides of drinking and driving.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Through the wall at the mall!

It wasn’t a door crasher sale at the Porcupine Mall today that caused a car to smash through a wall there. Witnesses said the driver told police that the brakes failed on this Lumina Sedan during the lunch hour today. The front part of the car went through the brick wall and into the gift shop inside the mall. There was extensive damage inside the store, and although the staff was surprised, no one was hurt.

Fuel Poverty

Fuel poverty is a term many Canadians haven’t heard before(it came from Europe), but Timmins-James Bay MP Charlie Angus says it’s going to become part of the language. Angus told a news conference in Timmins this morning he is concerned that the rising price of fuel oil and other fossil fuels will soon force many Northerners into poverty.
“It will be heat or eat,” said Angus referring to the fact that home heating oil will soon cost so much money that senior citizens and low-income earners will be forced to make a choice this coming winter between heating fuel or buying groceries.
Angus says long term solutions are needed to get Canadians into alternative heating solutions such as pellet stoves or geo-thermal heat.

Albert Lepic laid to rest

Funeral services were held Thursday for well-known former Timmins Police chief Albert Lepic, who died Sunday at the age of 92, Lepic served with Timmins Police for more than 40 years as well as being chief of the force from 1946 to 1953. Lepic was also a long time member of the Royal Canadian Legion. He was pre-deceased by his wife Beatrice in 1994. He is survived by three children, Dan, Chuck and Tina and five grandchildren. Interment was at the Timmins Memorial Cemetery.

Northern College $8 million expansion

The Ontario government gave Northern College a significant financial gift this week to help deal with the shortage of skilled-trades workers in the province.
It was an $8 million gift announced by Training, Colleges and Universities Minister John Milroy.
“We’re announcing today eight million dollars for a new technology centre here at the Porcupine campus as well as a satellite centre in Moosonee,” said Millroy. The provincial contribution will cover nearly 60 per cent of the cost of the new centre.
Millroy’s announcement was greeted with an extended round of applause from the gathered educators, industry leaders and community leaders.
“I hope you see this as signifying our confidence in the excellent work you do here,” Milloy told college officials.
Milloy had high praise for the college’s ability to form partnerships with industry and aboriginals communities.
“I think it’s so important that community colleges work closely with the business community to fulfill their training needs,” said Milloy.
“I also want to congratulate you for your special focus on First Nations,” he added.
Milloy also commented that Ontario is faced with global competition from such “low-wage economies” as those in China, India and Brazil.
“The only way Ontario can compete and the only way Ontario can prosper is if we have the most highly educated and highly trained workforce,” he said.
College President Michael Hill (in photo, on the left) commented on how pleased the college was to move forward on the new Nor Tech Centre for Trades and Technology. “Never have I seen a better match between a government agenda and what a college is meant to do,” he told the minister. Hill added that strong metal prices are fuelling the provincial economy “and this needs to be supported
“There is a convergence of circumstances that make this capital contribution to build a centre of excellence for skills, trades and technology at Northern College, just the right thing at just the right time,” said Hill.
Timmins city councillor Michael Doody, who was also a former chair of the college’s board of governors, congratulated the college on behalf of the city. Doody reminded the minister that Northern College has some challenges to overcome with respect to providing education over great distances, but said the North is entitled to the same quality of education that can be found anywhere in Ontario.
Tom Ormsby, the manager of public and corporate affairs for De Beers Canada Victor Project spoke on behalf of the many industries that hire Northern College graduates.
“Thank you for making this tool available where we need it,” said Ormsby.
He added that he was quoting a colleague when he said “If we can employ those people who live within the shadow of the land, we know that they will give us a stable workforce.”
Ormsby added that the success of the college’s technical programs would be key to the success of the resource industries in the north that employ those workers.
He also credited Northern College and its education partners with contributing to the success of De Beers’ newly opened Victor Mine.
Porcupine campus student council president Laura Gagain commented that the announcement of the new centre will help provide students with the skills, training and education to be able to find good jobs - - “Jobs that not only pay well,” said Gagain, “but provide us with satisfaction after a good day at work.”
She added that she expects that more students will be able to fill the needs for skilled trades workers that so many local industries need.
“We will be able to learn, and then work, in our own communities,” she said.
The total cost of the college’s new Nor Tech Centre is projected at $13.75 million and is expected to create 130 jobs. Construction is expected to be completed by September of 2010 and will add roughly 35,000 square feet of learning space to the college’s Porcupine Campus.
Earlier in the week, Milloy announced $3.5 million funding toward the construction of facilities for l’Université de Hearst at the new Collège Boréal campus in Timmins, which is under construction on Theriault Boulevard.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Crash on Pine South, driver collapses

Paramedics, firefighters and Timmins police rushed to give first-aid to a man who collapsed on the road after two pickup trucks were involved in a minor crash at Pine Street and Moneta avenue this afternoon. Witnesses told police the man said he was having chest pains. The man was transported by ambulance to Timmins and District Hospital at about 2:45 p.m.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Another crash on Algonquin

Traffic was slowed to a crawl on Algonquin Boulevard again today when a crash involving a scooter and a van occurred near Fogg Street. Paramedics and firefighters arrived on the scene at about 5:00 p.m. to find a young woman laying on the roadway next to the blue Yamaha scooter-style motorbike. The woman was transported to Timmins and District Hospital. Timmins Police Service is investigating. (click on any photo in this blog to see it full size)

Car crashes into pole

Traffic on the main artery in Timmins was blocked for roughly half an hour at noon today when a car crashed into a utility pole on Algonquin Boulevard, just west of Balsam Street. Police believe the driver of the car suffered some sort of medical problem just before the crash. The driver was transported to Timmins and District Hospital.
Car Crash Update at 3:00 p.m. - - Timmins Police says a crash on Algonquin Boulevard today denmonstrates the value of seat belts. Police say a 17-year old-male driver suffered a seizure today, crashed his car into a telephone pole which snapped off. The car then continued westbound along Algonquin, went up on the sidewalk, then crossed into the eastbound lane and then hit a building at Algonquin and Maple. Police say the driver suffered only minor injuries which would have been worse, had he not been wearing his seatbelt.

Norman Street fire update - arson charges

Timmins Police Services says three youths have been arrested in connection with the warehouse fire at 961 Norman Street on Tuesday. Police says the arrests come after information was provided from witnesses in the area of the fire. All three youths are each charged with one count of Arson, Damage to Property. A court date has been set for November. Police credit members of the public for taking the action to provide information to the police.

Mining Act changes too rushed say prospectors

The Goldrush Room at the Howard Johnson Inn in Timmins was crowded Monday night by mine exploration people who fear that with proposed changes to Ontario’s Mining Act, they may never see another gold rush ever again.
In a three-hour public session, stakeholders from across the North and even Eastern Ontario, took part in the first of a series of public meetings initiated by the provincial government aimed at changing the rules for mining exploration. The province says it’s “a modernization process.”
Officials from the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines (MNDM) presented a 20-page discussion paper. The room then broke up into small discussion groups to consider the changes, for nearly an hour.
As the groups came back to present their findings, some common threads emerged. The main one seemed to focus on the timing of the changes. Many complaints were voiced that the discussion paper was released on the same day of the first workshop with the result there was no time to study the document before discussing it.
The other concern is that the Ontario government appears to be moving uncharacteristically fast to get the changes to the Mining Act passed, according to many participants in the discussions.
That message came through when acting mayor Mike Doody presented a letter of welcome from the city to the ministry, where the ministry was invited to bring the consultations back to Timmins before any changes are passed into law.
“I am making this request because of the short time period we have had to review these very critical policy issues,” said Doody.
“Mining is the raison d’être of our city. It has contributed to the sustained economic life of our community for many years and we hope for many more,” Doody said.
“Your government’s review of the Ontario Mining Act will have a profound effect on our city and for this reason I feel an extensive amount of consultation is required,” he reminded the provincial officials.
The city’s letter also noted that the investment climate in Ontario has decreased dramatically in the past five years and the letter expressed concern about Ontario’s weakening economy.
“We cannot allow Ontario’s strength in mining to crumble,” said the letter.
The government’s rush on the issue was also a concern to veteran Timmins prospector Don McKinnon.
“This certainly was rushed,” said McKinnon, who added that he needed more time to fully analyze the document. He also commented on the concern for equal treatment by all stakeholders.
“We’re not looking for any concessions or special treatment. We want to be on par with everybody else,” said McKinnon.
Another concern was over what is called the “free entry” system that allows a prospector to enter and stake the land without prior consultation with the landowners. While the free entry system appears to bother some landowners and stakeholders, the prospectors made it clear that confidentiality and competitive secrecy have always been a part of mining exploration.
One part of the MNDM discussion paper said that aboriginal groups wanted to know beforehand where claims would be staked, so that they might decide whether the staking encroaches on their lands.
Several tables suggested that the mining industry does not have a problem with respecting aboriginal lands, but that there appears to be no firm rules about where prospectors can and cannot go.
One group suggested that a formal map of aboriginal “traditional lands” versus aboriginal “sacred lands” has to be defined. One prospector suggested that sacred lands, where ancestors might be buried, would be considered off-limits. But he said traditional lands, where there is hunting and fishing, should be open for prospecting.
It was suggested that aboriginal community has to make a decision on what lands are open and available to development and what lands are not.
“As far as Aboriginal rights, there seems to be a common thread; we need to know who to talk to and we need to know what the protocols are,” said geologist Bob Calhoun of the Timmins Economic Development Corporation.
Calhoun also defended mining exploration as an industry.
“The statement that is made fairly often that exploration companies run amok on the land is totally unfounded,” declared Calhoun. He said the industry has a host of regulatory agencies that are watching every step of the way.
“Mining is a business of rules, and we will follow the rules, but we really need to know what they are,” said Calhoun .
Calhoun added that the First Nations need to have some sort of formal land use planning in place.
“Those plans have to be developed by the First Nations, for the First Nations and the government has to be there to support them in that process.”
That concern was echoed by engineer and prospector Bruce Staines, who traveled all the way from Wawa to take part in the meeting.
“When we start to talk about traditional native lands, unless there are clear boundaries as to where those lands are, it is hard to engage in discussions and negotiations with people unless the boundaries and the limits are defined,” said Staines.
“When it comes to sharing the benefits of the mineral industry with First Nations, my concern is out of whose pocket does it come, does it come out of the government’s royalty portion or is it another dip into the profits of the company.”
“I think anytime you’re going to change an Act that has worked for many years, it’s an area of concern, because generally speaking this is not in favour of the mining industry,” he added.
“The mining industry is on a roll and anything that is going to dampen that is a negative for the province, and for Canada,” said Staines.

Murphy Road is closed!

Murphy Road, a gravel road that runs across the north end of Timmins, is closed. The road, which is popular with berry-pickers, ATVers and even dirt bikers, now has a locked gate at the western approach to the road, at Highway 655. A sign posted at the gate says Villeneuve Construction, Laforet Pit, No Trespassing. Villeneuve Construction, is a Hearst company. Company spokesman Mario Villeneuve told The Times this week “we own the property.” The company’s website says Villeneuve Construction has numerous aggregate resources between North Bay and Thunder Bay. “This important construction resource enables us to undertake construction contracts throughout Northern Ontario. We have access to a portable crusher, therefore we can provide aggregate resources wherever they are needed,” says the website. (click on any photo in this blog to see it full size)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Fire calls in Timmins

Firefighters in Timmins have been having a busy day. There was a car fire on Sunset road today that is being treated as a car theft and arson. That happened at mid-afternoon. Just before the supper hour, firefighters were called out to a warehouse fire on Norman Drive, just south of the Cedar Meadows property. The building is part of the old Ukrainian picnic grounds and was being used to store furniture. Police and fire investigators are treating that fire as arson as well.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Algonquin Reg't goes to the Arctic

A group of reservists from the Algonquin Regiment in Timmins will be part of a national military exercise to show Canada’s sovereignty in the Arctic.
Eight members of Bravo Company of the Algonquins will be heading north next week to the community of Iqaluit on Baffin Island in Nunavut, says Sergeant James Vogl of Timmins(at left). “The Algonquins will be providing a section of soldiers from this location, along with our company in North Bay, to a landforce infantry company and contributing to that operation,” said Vogl.
“It will be a sovereignty exercise not only in Iqaluit, which is the capital, but elements of our company will be dispersed to other local communities around Baffin Island,” Vogl explained.
He says the exercise will not be a war games type scenario, but instead an exercise in demonstrating that Canadian Forces can be deployed where ever they’re needed in Canada’s North.
“It’s going to be patrolling, seeing the land, showing our presence up in the North,” he said.
Vogl added that scenarios will be played out “to keep the troops on their toes.
A Canadian Forces news release says Operation Nanook will include exercise scenarios that simulate maritime emergencies, such as the evacuation of a ship in distress and an oil spill.
Vogl says the exercise with involve all elements of the Canadian Forces including the army, the navy, the air force and the Canadian Rangers, which is the Aboriginal element that carries on regular patrol duties in the far north.

Goldcorp cleaning up Delnite

Goldcorp Porcupine Gold Mines brought welcome news to residents of the Delnite townsite this week.
In response to concerns raised about the condition of old mine tailings, Goldcorp has moved up its schedule to rehabilitate the abandoned tailings. Work has already begun.
Goldcorp environmental engineer Laszlo Götz (wearing vest in photo) outlined the new plans to several members of the Delnite community this week while on a brief walking tour of the tailings area.
Many local residents became concerned last summer when Goldcorp carried out exploration diamond drilling on the old Delnite mine property. The mine had been closed since the 1960s and residents were concerned that with the increasing price of gold, new mining work might begin at the mine.
Since the mine closed, many residents bought homes in the old town site, as they were attracted by the peace and quiet of the wilderness setting. Residents had also expressed concern about the condition of the old tailings, which were abandoned in 1964.
Götz said the tailings, which were covered with old lumber and other debris, were unsightly and posed a safety hazard to area children who might wander into the area.
He said the other problem was the increasing usage of ATVs and dirt bikes on the tailings, which stirred up the dust.
“It has been determined that the dust was a direct result of unauthorized vehicle traffic on the tailings,” said Götz.
That was just one part of the problem according to one area resident.
“The dust was one thing, the unsightliness of it, and worrying about pets because it was a playground for ATVs and dirt bikes and whatnot, there was a hell of a racket going on,” explained Delnite resident Steve Eley.
“We hope we can re-educate the population to keep away from these areas,” said Götz.
He explained that in order for the land reclamation and vegetation effort to work properly, no one will be allowed on the tailings. Götz says a fence will be installed around the tailings area to keep trespassers away.
He added that the steep sidewalls of the tailings dam would be re-sloped to a four-to-one gradient so as to make it less likely for the tailings dam wall to erode.
The tailings area itself, which encompasses several hectares, will be covered with a biomass mixture made up of pulp sludge from the AbitibiBowater mill in Iroquois Falls.
The company says the reclamation plan will be similar to the successful land reclamation project carried out on the old Coniaurum tailings, northeast of Schumacher.
As part of the reclamation project, Laurentian University botanical studies students are planting corn and canola crops in a test plot at the Delnite to see which soil type is best to put on top of the tailings.
Area residents who took part in the walking tour this week said they were happy to get the news.
“I am pleased. I’m pleased it’s being done. I went to one of the meetings they had and it looked like it was going to be put on the backburner, but now it’s going ahead, so I’m happy this is taking place,” said Eley.
As for the exploration-drilling program, residents were told back in February that Goldcorp has not ruled out future drilling.
“The Delnite Mine and area is still an exploration target, it just does not rank highly on our current exploration target list,” the company said in a letter to residents.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Police nab suspect in liquor store break-in

Value of stolen booze - $300
Total damage to LCBO - $3,500
Getting caught at 2:00 a.m.
with a texas mickey - Priceless!

At least one Timmins man is not likely a regular viewer of CSI on television. Timmins police arrested a break-in suspect Thursday after blood and a piece of clothing were left at the scene of the crime.
Police say the break-in occurred early Thursday morning at the LCBO store in the Hollinger Court when a rock was used to smash a window.
Police officers arriving on the scene, saw blood and a piece of clothing outside the smashed window. The police K-9 unit was called out at 1:34 a.m. and a suspect was tracked to the front of a house on nearby Borden Avenue.
At that time, police also seized a large bottle of liquor, often referred to as a Texas Mickey.
Police say a 29-year old man was arrested and charged with break, enter and theft, possession of stolen goods, mischief and six counts of breaching probation.
Police are seeking a second suspect in the break in. The total value of the stolen alcohol was roughly $300. The damage done to the window and a cash register was $3,500.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Xstrata expands Kidd Mine

Xstrata Copper today announced it will spend more than C$120 million to extend the life of the Kidd Mine in Timmins.
The Kidd Mine, which is already the world's deepest copper and zinc mine, will be extended from 9,100 feet to 9,500 feet. It will allow the company to extract an additional 3.4 million tonnes of ore and extend the life of mine by roughly one year, to 2017. The expansion will allow for the creation of 75 new full-time jobs for the duration of the construction project.
In a news release, Xstrata Copper Canada Chief Operating Officer Claude Ferron said of the investment:
"The investment approval reflects Xstrata Copper's commitment to the sustainability of Kidd Mine and the Timmins community and its business strategy to continually implement improvements to enhance the value of its operations. Our ability to mine safely and efficiently at the current 8,800 level, the commitment of our employees and support of the community were fundamental factors in obtaining the necessary approvals."
"We continue to study the potential to add more reserves at the mine and to further extend its operational life" said Ferron.
Construction is already underway and scheduled for completion by mid 2010.
In 2007, approval was given to extend the mining zone to 9,100 feet and in June 2008 to 9,500 feet for a combined additional investment of C$148 million.
The Kidd Mine, which began operations in 1966, was developed by Texasgulf.
It now forms part of the Xstrata Copper Canada division, one of five operating divisions of Xstrata Copper. Together with the Kidd Metallurgical complex, it employs close to 2,200 employees and contractors. In a news release, Xstrata says the Mine D expansion project was completed in 2006 at a capital cost of C$664 million .

House fire in Porcupine

Firefighters from Whitney and South Porcupine responded to a house fire call on Highway 101 in Porcupine Tuesday. No one was at home at the time of the fire which is believed to have started in the kitchen, where a pot was left on the stove.

Lake Shore Gold moving towards production

Lake Shore Gold Corp. (LSG) in Timmins says it’s well on it’s way to becoming North America’s next significant “mid-tier” gold producer.
Company president Tony Makuch told reporters in Timmins Tuesday that he is confident his company’s Timmins West project will eventually push the company into the big leagues.
When asked to define mid-tier, Makuch said, “ We expect to fill the marketplace between the junior and the senior producers. We’re something above a junior company and something below the Barricks and Newmonts of this world.”
Makuch said Lake Shore Gold is different from a lot of other smaller gold companies. “We already have 1.2 million ounces in reserves in the ground,” said Makuch. “So that gives us the foundation to start with and to build upon. We have sufficient gold reserves right now here at Timmins West for at least 11 years.”
The company held a family day Tuesday to show off all the work that has been at the Timmins West site in the past year and to bring the local media up to date on the status of the project, which so far has seen a local investment of roughly $26 million.
“We are on track, we are well on track with what we said we were going to do here,” said Makuch, who is also a Timmins native.
“We expect to be producing ore by 2009 from Timmins West,” said Makuch adding that he expects the company to produce about 30,000 ounces of gold in that first year.
“It’s a good time for Timmins, and definitely a good time for Lake Shore Gold and a good time for Northeastern Ontario,” he declared.
The shaft sinking process has just begun. Operations vice-president Chris Stewart says the new 18-foot diameter circular concrete and steel shaft is currently sunk to 35 metres, but will eventually reach 650 metres.
Makuch says production at the mine is expected to eventually reach 150,000 ounces per year. Once production begins, LSG will be shipping its ore, by truck, to the Bell Creek mill in Porcupine.
Stewart says the job of refurbishing the mill is “progressing very well’ and he expects it will be done by the end of the year and will be able to begin processing ore in the first quarter of 2009.
“The mill was put away well,” said Stewart referring to the fact that the Bell Creek property shut down several years ago. It was purchased by LSG last year. Stewart said an inspection of the mill showed that of 50 electric motors inside the plant, only two needed serious repairs.
In September, the company will also drive a ramp at the Timmins West mine. As part of process of developing the ramp, Makuch says the company will also be able to begin extracting ore as the ramp moves through the ore zones.
Makuch says for all the that the new mine has to offer in the way of reserves and brand new equipment and facilities, “ the real main asset we have is people.”
He says Lake Shore is working towards international standards in terms of health and safety. as well as the environment. Makuch says the company’s goal is “zero harm” to the people who work at the mine and to the community that surrounds it.
Currently there are roughly 160 staff and contractor workers employed at the mine. Makuch says he expects that will reach 230 by the end of this year and 300 employees in 2009-10 when the mine goes into full production.

Bob Izumi coming to Timmins

One of Canada’s best known outdoors ambassadors, Bob Izumi, is coming to Timmins this week. The public has a chance to meet the man on Friday.
Izumi, who is known across North America as the enthusiastic host of The Real Fishing Show, will be appearing at Krazy Krazy Audiotronics at 1330 Riverside Drive.
The store is celebrating it’s 20th anniversary and Izumi will drop by Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. to help draw attention to an in-store fishing promotion. Izumi has been to Timmins previously to promote fishing and to videotape segments for his television show, while visiting fishing lodges in the region.
Aside from being a successful TV host, Izumi is an avid angler first and foremost. He has won more than 50 professional fishing tournaments in Canada. In 1995 he became Canada’s only triple-crown fishing winner, capturing the Canadian Open bass tournament, the GM Pro Bass Classic and GM Pro Bass Angler of the Year Award.
In 1998 Izumi founded Fishing Forever, a non-profit organization committed to preserving and enhancing Ontario's fisheries. He has acted as Chairman of the organization since its inception.
Izumi, who is now 50, became Canada’s first ever full-time fishing pro in 1978. The native of Chatham, Ontario was an avid angler long before that. Izumi won his first fishing derby when he was eight years old.
Photo Credit: Bob Izumi’s Real Fishing Show.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Racer runs red, loses car

A driver who tried to outrun local police after getting four flat tires, has had his car, and the flat tires, impounded by police for seven days.
Police say the car, a ’97 Pontiace Grand Prix was clocked at 50 kilometres in excess of the speed limit on Highway 101 in the Schumacher area on Wednesday. According to police, the driver refused to pull over, tried to evade police, was involved in a collsion and left the scene of that collision.
As a result, police say 20-year-old Ronald Hansen of Schumacher is charged with racing, failing to stop for a red light, failing to stop for police and failing to remain at the scene of a collsion.
Police say Hansen has also had his driving privileges suspended for seven days.