A Timmins man, who for years championed the mining sector from the mayor’s seat, will now join the industry in the private sector.
Tom Laughren, who served as mayor of Timmins for eight years — and as councillor from 1994 to 2003 — will move on from a life in municipal politics when he joins Lake Shore Gold in the role of director of corporate responsibility.
Health and safety, environment, site security, and First Nations and community relations will all come under his purview.
“I’m excited for the opportunity,” he said of the Timmins-based position. “I think, if I could close my eyes and think about a job that I would like to take on, this would be the ideal, for sure.”
Even though this is a new direction for the mayor, he’s not new to the industry; before going into politics, Laughren, a crane operator by trade, worked in mining construction for 27 years. He’s worked in quality assurance, purchasing, health and safety, and construction management. Laughren is also marking his 36th year as a volunteer firefighter and has served on a number of community boards and committees.
In January, Laughren said he started thinking about taking his career on a new path. While he enjoys the mayor’s work, he also recognized that running for, and securing, a subsequent term of council would commit him to the role for another four years.
“I’m 58 — I just turned 58, actually — and if I wanted to do something different, do I do it at 58 or 62, because they’re four-year terms,” Laughren said. “In my mind, 58 was the right time to do it.”
By June, Laughren had been presented with the Lake Shore opportunity and was immediately drawn to the position. Calling the miner “kind of the new mining company on the block,” with regard to gold mining in Timmins, Laughren said he’s been impressed with what he’s seen so far.
“I’ve been very excited with a couple of things they’ve done as it related to mining over the last couple of years — refurbishing their mill, developing two mines at Bell Creek and Timmins West — so I’ve watched them from a distance and been very appreciative of what they’ve done for the community and how they’ve done it,” he said.
While he’ll miss the public interaction and ability to directly effect change, Laughren said he’s proud of his record of achievement and believes he’s leaving the community in solid standing.
City staff and the councils of which he’s been a part have taken on some major challenges — the closures of Xstrata’s Kidd Metallurgical Site and Grant Forest Products among them — but they’ve addressed them head on and helped guide the community through to the other side.
“As a community we’ve been strong, and I’m a positive Timmins guy,” he said. “I look at the future and is see a bright future for Timmins and I think some of the legwork that we have laid definitely will help that going forward.”
Laughren expects to take on his new role this autumn, but hasn’t ruled out a future run in municipal politics.
“Would I come back?” he muses. “I would never say never.”