Published on: 2/12/2013 10:30:03 AM Print | Font Sizes:  Normal Text Large Text

Edifice to Timmins country singer to meet the wrecking ball

By: Northern Ontario Business staff

Goldcorp will demolish the 11-year-old Shania Twain Centre in Timmins to make way for an open pit gold mine.
Goldcorp will demolish the 11-year-old Shania Twain Centre in Timmins to make way for an open pit gold mine.

The Shania Twain Centre was declared surplus Jan.7 by Timmins City Council, and its sale to Goldcorp was approved.

Marc Lauzier, Porcupine Gold Mines general manager, said once the deal does go through, Goldcorp plans to dismantle the structure.

“It makes economic sense for us to purchase the centre and we have no plans for it,” he said. “That is where the surface expression of the ore is so that is how we make our financial justification for the purchase.”

The centre, which also houses the Gold Mine Tour, was to close at the end of January.

Mayor Tom Laughren said at a council meeting Jan. 7 that administration was authorized about 18 months ago to approach Goldcorp about the sale of the centre. A consultant's report released at that time indicated the centre was operating at a loss and that attendance at both attractions had been steadily declining.

“These decisions aren't made very easily,” he said. “As council went through that report, one of the suggestions was to approach Goldcorp so they knew we were open due to where it is located in proximity to their berm (and open pit). There was some interest so we pursued that.”

The sale has been in negotiations since that time, while council agreed to keep the status quo for the centre.

“That was in case there wasn't an interest (in the sale), and we still had to operate and look at alternatives and different things we can do,” said Laughren.

Some new strategies for the tour and the exhibits are to be presented at a council meeting Jan. 28.

“People will see the commitment we have to mining and to Shania Twain, but in a different format.”

Last summer, a good portion of the exhibits were removed from the centre by one of Twain's management companies. She and the management company had been informed of council's plans.

“A big part of (Twain's) career has changed and she is working out of Las Vegas now so she had to support that. Everything changes as you move forward. It was an opportunity for that group as well, but she has been very committed to Timmins,” he said. “We have always had a good relationship with her group and will continue to have a good working relationship.”

Since opening in June 2001, attendance at the money-losing centre has steadily declined from a 2002 peak of 8,400 visitors to 2,800 in 2010. In 2002, the nearby gold mine tour attracted 6,200 visits, but declined 36 per cent to 4,000 in 2010.

According to the report prepared by PKF Consulting, the combined attractions operated at a net loss ranging from $160,500 in 2005 to $321,000 in 2009. Based on full staffing allocations and cost recoveries, municipal investments in the attractions have ranged from $280,000 to $320,000.

The centre has been open since the summer of 2001 and was constructed for $6 million.

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