From concerts to the college strike, and more, it's been a busy year in the Timmins area.
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Goldcorp Dome underground closing
Miners at the Dome underground are working their last shift Dec. 31. Goldcorp announced the closure, which will affect about 140 people at Porcupine Gold Mines, in August. Mine general manager Marc Lauzier said there have been in-house events to honour the closure, including a photographer being brought in for crew members wanting to have their picture taken. While the closure marks the end of an era (the Dome operations started in 1910), Goldcorp is still active with projects such as the Hollinger open pit, Hoyle Pond, and constructing the Borden Mine.
Stars and Thunder
Whether you loved the festival, or loved to hate it – the inaugural eight-day event at Hollinger Park had the city talking. The star-studded lineup for the music festival capped off with Keith Urban headlining a Canada Day concert. While an international fireworks competition was also part of the attraction, weather caused the displays to be put off several consecutive nights. The lineup for the 2018 edition of Stars and Thunder has been announced and will see Bryan Adams take the stage July 1.
The Timmins councillor is facing two criminal charges. The first charge, corruption of a municipal official, was laid in September, while an additional charge of breach of trust by a public officer was added in October. According to court documents, in August 2017 Dubeau allegedly offered “to act in a preferential manner to GoldCorp in his role as a Timmins City Councillor in exchange for GoldCorp purchasing his residence at a premium.” None of the charges have been proven in court. The next court date is Jan. 9.
Ontario College Teachers’ Strike
Teachers at Ontario’s 24 community colleges walked the picket lines for five weeks, starting Oct. 16. At Northern College, the disruption led to 115 full-time students withdrawing from their programs for a full tuition refund. The main factors cited for the work disruption by striking workers were contract and part-time faculty members, lack of academic freedom, and fairness. The province legislated teachers back to work, with the arbitrator tasked with settling the contract dispute announcing its award last week.
Mining company Noront Resources Ltd. is looking for a place to set up a processing smelter and Timmins is on the shortlist. The Noront Ferrochrome Production Facility brings with it almost 500 new jobs and Timmins is competing against Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay for the plant. The City and the Timmins Ecomonic Development Committee have been working to garner business support, and put together the proposal. The bids are due in early February.
Now in its third season, Sk8te Hollinger organizer Ken Pye continues to dream big. The outdoor figure-eight skating rink is a popular spot for skaters. For the 2016/2017 winter, a NHL-sized ice sheet was added for shinny games. This winter, Pye is aiming to add 22 smaller rinks to host a pond hockey tournament – the Hollinger Cup. The Sk8te Hollinger rinks have been at council recently, with the city wanting to ensure it approves any of the work happening at the site.
How much should the Timmins mayor be paid? It’s a debate that was brought up this year by Coun. Noella Rinaldo, who at the time said the Timmins’ mayoral salary is ‘considerably low’ compared to other municipalities. In 2016, the last full year that numbers are available for, the remuneration for Timmins Mayor Steve Black was $73,078 (you can see what other Northern Ontario mayors made here). The last review of the Timmins mayor’s salary was in 2010. CAO Dave Landers is preparing a review of the salary.
New fire hall
The integrated emergency services facility at Northern College’s campus in South Porcupine is starting to take shape. The complex will house training labs and garages, simulation rooms for specialized training and video conference technology. Once it’s completed, the Whitney Volunteer Fire Department will also relocate 2.5 kilometres west from Dixon Street to the college. The provincial and federal government each pitched in $5.5 million for the project, with the city committing up to $2 million. The city has also entered into a 99-year lease with the school. There was a fiery debate at city council earlier this year when the project was being voted on. Volunteer firefighters also spoke out against the move, noting response times being one of the main concerns.