[Timmins] City boom continues in 2013 – by Benjamin Aubé (Timmins Daily Press – December 28, 2012)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

TIMMINS – For the past few years, the City of Timmins has focused on both increasing industry in the traditional sectors of mining and forestry, as well as seeking out new economic and industrial opportunity.

With a new airline (Porter) coming to town in 2012, along with the development of a diversified economy, Mayor Tom Laughren and city council will be looking to keep up with a city that is growing in more ways than one.

“I think Timmins will continue to see the building boom happening for the next couple of years,” said Laughren, previewing the challenges and opportunities 2013 is promising to offer. “I think it will still be a very much the mix we have out there right now, which is industrial, commercial and residential.

“The numbers are way up there, (construction) has been climbing, and with the price of gold, that’s going to continue.

“Having said that, one of the big challenges around that is going to be housing. The two biggest challenges I hear from local businesses when I visit them to talk about economic development are attracting workers, and then finding a place for them to live.”

With parts of Southwestern Ontario being hit hard by job losses, Laughren said that one of council’s priorities will be developing a housing strategy. The mayor said it “is easy to say, but will be tougher to do.

“We’re back at that phase of the work cycle again, where there’s a lot of opportunities for young people looking at careers to take their skills and come North with them.”

Laughren pointed to the economic advantages that two new hotels — the Microtel and the Holiday Inn — will bring to local businesses when they open up in the near future. The construction of two schools, including the new École publique Lionel-Gauthier, as well as the Extendicare facility that is being built, will allow the city to keep up on both the educational and the health-care fronts.

“You’ll also see continued growth for Northern College and Collège Boréal,” said Laughren. “The education sector is still very important, and you’re going to see that one of the priorities for economic development in the city will be an anglophone university.”

He said that it’s unlikely that Timmins would be getting its own university campus anytime soon, but “our partnerships will continue to unfold, and that’s going to be something important to retain our youth and give them the opportunity for a higher level of education right here within their own community, or at least the region.”

Some of the economic and educational diversification Laughren talked about for Timmins will be evident in the spring, when a joint project between the Canadian and French space agencies will be launching data collection weather balloons from a site near the Timmins Victor M. Power Airport.

“You can see that down the road, there could be spin-off opportunities coming from something like that,” said the mayor. “That’s the true sense of diversification when you’re talking about a resource-based community now having that kind of an opportunity.”

For the rest of this article, please go to the Timmins Daily Press website: http://www.timminspress.com/2012/12/28/city-boom-continues-in-2013