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A grand idea for Porcupine

A local woman is dreaming big, pitching a hotel and recreation centre near where the province says the new train station will be built

When the first passenger train pulls into town again, a Porcupine woman wants people to have a place to stay. 

For years, Carol Tanguay has been cooking up a dream. It wasn't until recently that she started publicly sharing the vision — the Porcupine Grand Phoenix Hotel and Recreation Centre. 

It's a big dream. 

On the empty property between Crevier's Gas station and the city public work's yard on King Street in Porcupine, she envisions a multi-use facility. There would be a 100-room hotel, an arts and culture centre, condos, gardens and a greenhouse, a sweat lodge, a beer garden, a restaurant, and a daycare for the staff and guests. A training and mentoring component for people that want to go into the hospitality business would also be included. 

“I believe over 100 per cent that this project would work if we sit down and put our minds together and think out of the box,” said Tanguay.

A sketch of what the Porcupine Grand Phoenix Hotel could look like and include. Supplied image

The property, which she does not own but has talked to the owner about, is just east of where the province has said the new Ontario Northland train station will be.

She's had meetings with potential investors and is connecting with post-secondary institutions. 

There also has to be an Indigenous focus, she said.

"This is our culture, our history, our identity and I’m hoping that at least 51 per cent of the ownership will be Indigenous-owned and try to incorporate everything in our community into this one location.

"I believe that it has to be in this spot. It’s right across from the train, it’s close to the Trans-Canada. We could have a billboard on the Trans-Canada to advertise and maybe lure visitors into the city this way, but it’s not to take away from what we already have in the city. We need to look at incorporating what we have in the city,” she said. 

Timing is crucial and Tanguay is facing a tight turnaround.

The province is aiming to get the Ontario Northlander back on the rails in the mid-2020s and Tanguay said that means the hotel should be open by 2026.

"When that train arrives, then we should be there to greet the people and we should be already promoting what our packages are and everything to get the people on that train to come to Timmins,” she said.

The proposed hotel would be just down the road from where the government has said the Ontario Northland train station will be built on King Street near the Gervais intersection. Maija Hoggett/TimminsToday

Because each component already exists somewhere in Canada, she believes it's doable.

She's aiming to have five or six commit to the project. Ultimately, that ownership group would be the ones deciding what the hotel consists of.

Her role in it all, she said, is to see it to fruition.

"I want to see change in the city because I really do think that Timmins has a lot to offer and that Timmins can change. But in order for Timmins to grow and get the population we have to think out of the box and we have to make a difference,” she said, questioning why Timmins has never reached a population of 50,000.

“We need to change. It’s time for change. My role, I’m hoping to pass this on to whoever wants to take ownership of this. My role is to sit back and give them ideas, I have tons of ideas for recreational facilities and that, I have loads of ideas, and so I want to go in and just provide my feedback and my ideas on how this could potentially work.”

She didn't say what the cost of the proposal is. 

“This is going to be costly, for sure, I know that. And the whole thing is to make sure it’s successful. You don’t want to put a lot of money into a project and then not have it succeed and I believe that there’s a lot of potential here, especially if you’re training students on this and it’s a mentoring program,” said Tanguay.

To keep up-to-date with the proposal, follow Voices of Porcupine. That's also where people can message with their feedback.