Shania centre sell-off – by Benjamin Aubé (Timmins Daily Press – January 7, 2013)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

TIMMINS – Mayor Tom Laughren said the city is looking to sell the Shania Twain Centre and the land that surrounds it to Goldcorp “for all the right reasons.” On Monday, city council agreed to declare the land and buildings – which includes the Timmins Underground Gold Mine Tour – surplus to kick off a process that would see them sold to the mining company, which operates the nearby Hollinger pit.

In 2001, the Shania Twain Centre opened in a new, multi-million dollar building, which displayed much of the country star’s memorabilia from her early years in the City with a Heart of Gold and beyond.

The number of visitors at the centre peaked in 2002, at 8,400, but soon went into steady decline, dropping 66% to 2,800 visitors in by 2010. During the same timeframe, the Underground Gold Mine Tour’s yearly attendance numbers dropped by 36%, from 6,200 to 4,000 visits. A report prepared by PFK Consulting estimated that the City and taxpayers would be paying approximately $300,000 per year to continue operations for both attractions in the future.

“In today’s economic climate, it’s important to make economically prudent decisions,” stated a city report explaining the potential sale. “There is a great opportunity to continue featuring both our hometown star and our mining heritage in other, more cost effective ways and the city will be working on a comprehensive plan to continue showcasing this city’s proud heritage.”

Laughren was quick to point out that, far from severing ties with Shania, the city would continue to display various pieces of the musician’s memorabilia at various locations throughout the community.

Maple Leaf Productions, one of Twain’s management companies, is in charge of the singer’s memorabilia. The mayor said the city and the company share “a great partnership.”

“It’s important for the news media and the citizens to understand this,” Laughren said. “The City of Timmins approached Goldcorp to gauge their interest in a possible purchase of these city-owned facilities and land.

“I want to be very clear that the administration is in the process of finalizing the agreement, and this is the first step in that process.”

As per city rules, a two-week notice period will give residents a chance to become familiar and give their input in regards to the potential sale.

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