After serving in municipal politics for four decades, former Timmins Mayor Vic Power says he still misses it.
The city's longest-serving mayor successfully ran for council in 1966 and became its mayor in 1980. Following a defeat in 1988, he returned as mayor in 1991 and served continuously until 2000 when he announced his retirement.
In 2003, he was re-elected mayor and served until 2006.
“Frankly, I left at the end of 2006 because I was physically tired at the time,” he said. “There are days when you say you want to get off the diving board and into the pool again but you realize that everyone has physical limitations and I don't know that I would have the energy to give it 24/7.”
Boards and committees keep him busy but he admits to not being as actively involved as he had been. “I do miss (municipal politics) but I am not sure if I have the patience anymore. But there is no point in looking back all the time and you do have to move on. I am enjoying life in my current role,” Power said.
Power continues to remain interested in politics, something that began when he was a youth growing up in the city.
He followed the issues closely and always knew the people involved, including the previous mayors who also made their mark on the community.
“Timmins will always be the business and professional centre for northeastern Ontario. But a lot of people deserve credit for making it what it is today.
It wasn't just one individual doing it all,” he said. Leo Del Villano, who served three separate mayoral terms between the 1950s and '70s, had a progressive spirit and Power said he helped position the city for the future.
“He always said Timmins was sitting on top of a jewelry box and he always imparted that optimism to the people,” he said.
It was Del Villano who broke a split vote, decades ago, to go ahead with an industrial park in the south end of the city which turned out to be a good decision for the municiplaity.
“Now we have Northern Telephone, Ontario Power Generation, Purolator and other companies set up there so the results of that decision are there for everyone to see. We are fortunate to have had people who could look ahead,” Power said.
The city also benefitted from the corporate responsibility of the mines operating in the city. In 1938, the McIntyre Arena opened which was a mini-version of Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto.
The facility, still in use today, was built by McIntyre Porcupine Mines, and Dome Mines built an arena in South Porcupine.
“The mines did give back. The Hollinger Mine paid its taxes early to give the city a bit of a boost so we didn't have to wait to collect it. The mines did things that didn't have to be done,” he said.
Timmins experienced tremendous development from the 1950s on with new subdivisions and buildings followed by the huge discovery in 1964 of Kidd Creek Mine.
“That find was so important, it set the New York Stock Exchange on its ear,” Power said. “It was the talk of the financial world. Then the concentrator and smelter were built which were connected to the mine by a private railroad.
“That investment in Timmins was such a strong one, the city never really looked back.”
The former mayor is quick to point out that all political accomplishments made in the city were done by a team effort and there are some he is proud to have been associated with.
In 1991, in his inaugural address, Power recommended to council that the city's debenture debt of $16 million should be wiped out by 2000.
In the fall of 2000, the last debenture was burned on the steps of city hall.
But the biggest accomplishment he had a part in was bringing the city together following the amalgamation of the town with its surrounding communities and townships in 1973.
“To say there was tension and raw feelings at that time would be an understatement,” Power said. “But the city came together over the years and the hard feelings from the various areas dissipated and a new spirit emerged.
“At that time it was unthinkable for someone from the east end to be mayor and now we do. It tells me we did bring the city together and I am glad to have been part of that.”
The long-serving mayor's service to the community was noted when the city's airport was officially named the Victor M. Power Airport in 2007.
In 2009, he received the Order of Canada. “
Timmins is well positioned for the future. I think the people in charge now are doing their best. Everyone faces different challenges and sometimes the decisions we make at that time turn out well.”