Mining builds communities across Ontario — Timmins

This article was provided by the Ontario Mining Association (OMA), an organization that was established in 1920 to represent the mining industry of the province.

There is little doubt that today Noah and Jules Timmins would not recognize the little community they helped to found – and provide its name – in 1912.  However, one thing which has remained constant in the development of Timmins as the town has grown from 974 people when it started to a population of more than 46,000 today has been — and is — mining.

In 1912, the Dome, McIntyre and Hollinger gold mine headframes could be seen on the horizon.  Today, Xstrata Copper, Goldcorp, Lake Shore Gold, St. Andrew Goldfields, Brigus Gold and Luzenac talc all have mineral producing operations in the area.  In addition, De Beers Canada uses Timmins as its base for the Victor diamond mine near Attawapiskat and Detour Gold is relying on the community to support its new gold mine in the Cochrane area.

Christy Marinig, Chief Executive Officer at the Timmins Economic Development Corporation (TEDC), points out there is a great deal of mineral exploration being carried out at this time and that the region of Timmins service area covers about 118,000 people.  “We are born out of mining and mining is still the leading economic driver,” she said.

“Mining is a wealth generator, not a wealth distributor,” said Ms. Marinig, who was born in Timmins and has been with the TEDC for 17 years.  “While mining provides a solid base, we do need to try to diversify and create well-paying white collar jobs and we need to stimulate a higher level of entrepreneurship.”

The goal of the TEDC, which is funded by the City of Timmins, is to attract and retain businesses and to assist local companies with applications for government funding support.  She points out that one of challenges facing the community during the current mining boom is housing.

The value of home sales in Timmins in June 2011 was $18.4 million, which is the highest ever for a single month.  Property sales reached a record level of more than $22.2 million in the same month.  House sales in Timmins for the first half of 2011 are 7% higher than the corresponding period in 2010.

Ms. Marinig points out that the rental market is also tight.  The vacancy rate is 1.2% and rents for apartments in Timmins match Toronto prices.  She added that the TEDC is working on a housing strategy. 

Approximately 25% of the Timmins workforce is directly involved in mining.  Of the total workforce, 31% have engineering and technical post secondary training, while 21% have post secondary business management and public administration training.

It is estimated that about 8% of the local population, or more than 5,000 people, are Aboriginal in origin.  Ms. Marinig says there is a great deal of consultation with First Nations groups and that the Wabun Tribal Council is pursuing development plans and initiatives that will benefit Timmins and the region.

While Timmins and mining are likely to remain inexorably linked, we can’t lose sight of the fact that the city is a vibrant community that is home to – and has been home to – thousands of people.  The strength of these community ties was demonstrated recently during the 100th anniversary Whitney-Tisdale Homecoming Reunion celebrations in South Porcupine, which attracted hundreds of former residents from across North America and Europe. 

True to their Timmins roots, former National Hockey League players Walt Tkcazuk and Danny Belisle were among the celebrants.  At a plaque unveiling and quarter-century time capsule placement ceremony, a community leader said “Mining brought this town together.  This is a wonderful place to raise a family and hopefully 25 years from now it will be the same.”  

Timmins, which is just south of the 49th parallel of latitude, may be 555 miles north of Toronto as the crow flies but by provincial highways the distance is closer to 680 kilometres.  More than 67 million ounces of gold have been produced in the Timmins region up to the end of 2010.