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Post Info TOPIC: Shania Twain Centre - Closed February 2013/Demolished December 2014


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Shania Twain Centre - Closed February 2013/Demolished December 2014


Shania Twain Centre sparks argument

Posted By Brandon Walker, The Daily Press

There was some heated debate during Monday night’s city council meeting about how the city’s culture, leisure and tourism department should operate.

It came on the heels of a presentation by the city’s director of development, Mark Jensen and Andrea Griener, who is in charge of the CLT.

They discussed a new strategic vision for the department.

After Coun. Michael Doody talked about the good things the department does for the city, Coun. Denis Saudino shared his feelings about the Shania Twain Centre.

He said the centre mostly holds meetings and community events, particularly for

the City of Timmins, which could be held at the McIntyre Arena.

“While your report is good, I don’t think I’m prepared to support it entirely,” he said.

Saudino said the centre hasn’t lived up to expectations and wanted to know how many people actually go through the tours.

Coun. John Curley said councillors shouldn’t criticize a place they all agreed to build.

“We have to stay positive and focus on what we do have,” Curley said. “To sit here and criticize places that have dedicated boards working out there, (it’s not right) for them to hear it (through the media).”

Saudino jumped in with: “I was not criticizing the staff, get your facts straight. Be accurate.”

Then a yelling match broke out.

Mayor Tom Laughren asked Saudino to wait his turn and allowed Curley to continue.

Coun. Bill Gvozdanovic said if Saudino wanted to be controversial he should put a resolution on the table asking to close the Shania Twain Centre. But no one did.

Gvozdanovic feels the CLT department shouldn’t “handcuff” its employees, preventing them from pitching ideas which cost more than a certain amount of money.


“If we had the Tragically Hip here in Timmins, it would sell out (instantly),” Gvozdanovic said.

Coun. Gary Scripnick disagreed.

“I just wanted to support what was said by Mark about taking risks, but with only a certain amount of money,” Scripnick said.

“I’m not in favour of taking huge amounts of money and spending it on concerts.

“The people of Timmins haven’t come out in great droves to support these events, so I think limiting the amount of dollars spent is wise.”

Scripnick said the city should leave larger concerts and acts to “professional music entrepreneurs.”

Gvozdanovic said the city should create more opportunities for residents and tourists, making the area more than just a regional hub for shopping.

“When can you expect to see us trying new things?” he asked Jensen. “Can someone show me a schedule at the Sportsplex pool; are there things we can do to change it?

“It’s a jewel for residents of the city. The Mac is too.”

Gvozdanovic is hoping the city will use the McIntyre Arena for in-line skating and other events during the summer.

He believes if the city tries several things and only a few work, at least they’ve tried.

“You have to keep trying and give the people an opportunity to (explore) these programs,” he said.

All members of council supported a revised vision for the culture, leisure and tourism department.

http://www.timminspress.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=1584738



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Council debates future of Shania Twain Centre

An effort by city hall to re-structure some of its departments led to a debate this week over whether the city should consider selling off the Shania Twain Centre.

The issue arose after an in-house report on the creation of the city’s new Culture, Leisure and Tourism division, which is part of the Development and Community Services Department. Previously, this was under the jurisdiction of the City Clerk.

The new department now includes what was defined as “five distinct business units” - the Timmins Museum and National Exhibition Centre, Leisure Services, the Sportsplex pool, Tourism Timmins and the Shania Twain Centre-Gold Mine Tour.

Councilor Denis Saudino expressed concern about the money being spent on the Shania Twain Centre (STC) and suggested that the numbers of visitors is not quite as accurate as it could be.

Saudino said he didn’t want the numbers of visitors that would go to the STC because it might be a special event on Canada Day or a wedding reception or something similar. He said he wanted the numbers of actual ticket sales.

“It has never lived up to its expectations,” said Saudino, who quoted consultants who predicted the centre would attract about 25,000 visitors a year.

“It never even came close, never came close.” he said.

“There comes a time when you have to say ‘well how can you scale it back and still have something to honour Shania Twain’,” he said.

He said the city’s subsidy this year will likely be more than $300,000.

Saudino said he did not want to rubber stamp the city report, saying there was far too much information that had not been included.

Councilor John Curley expressed disappointment that too much negativity was being expressed in a public venue.

“Each one of us could sit around here and criticize,” said Curley.

He said all members of council agreed on the decision to build the Shania centre and efforts continue at ways to make the venture more profitable.

“I think we have to stay positive,” said Curley. “But to sit here and criticize a place, where our staff are there working, we have dedicated boards that work out of there, is not right to hear on public television,” said Curley.

Saudino became upset at this point and said he was not criticizing any staff members, and a short shouting match ensued, which was quelled by the mayor.

Councilor Gary Scripnick remarked that leisure facilities are expected to “be a burden on the taxpayer” but added he wouldn’t be against selling the centre if Shania Twain herself was interested in buying it. He suggested that Twain and her entertainment contacts would have the expertise to make the centre work.

http://www.timminstimes.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=1586067



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RE: Council debates future of Shania Twain Centre


That would suck if they sold it off.I really want to visit the ST center someday.
Maybe Shania can step in and help them out somehow.

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Maybe she should've visited the centre more often and that would've kept the public interest. Having a museum dedicated to a person who left the spotlight years ago and not visit periodically is akin to having a museum dedicated to Billy Idol, someone who was big a long time ago and is nowhere to be found. I love Shania and she is I imagine the biggest thing to come out of Canada since Celine Dion. I'm not familiar with Canadian music so forgive me if I'm wrong. I'm just an American girl. I do hope that the museum stays open because Shania's contributed greatly to the cultural landscape in Ontario, especially Timmins.

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If that were to happen, it would be a real pity as the saying goes "use it or lose it". While it is nice of Shania to send all her things there and donate the odd prize for a contest or something, she could make more of an effort to visit as misskiwi pointed out. But she obviously has her reasons and we shouldn't be down on her because of it. Shania doesn't like to think herself as being a celebrity, although clearly she's become one and I'm sure she appreciates everything the Centre has done and will continue to do. After all the Centre, other than her music, is the biggest connection she has with her fans.



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New plan coming for Shania Centre


New plan coming for Shania Centre
Council hiring consultant to look at tourist attractions
By Ron Grech, The Daily Press

Timmins council is hiring a consultant to develop a business plan for the combined Shania Twain Centre/Gold Mine Tour sites despite suggestions from one councillor that it would be a complete waste of money.

"I don't think we need a consultant to tell us to combine advertising dollars" and do joint marketing with other attractions in the region, said Coun. Noella Rinaldo.

She predicted the report would end up on a shelf somewhere, gathering dust.

The five-year-business plan is being done in conjunction with the Hockey Heritage North in Kirkland Lake and the Polar Bear Habitat in Cochrane.

Timmins' share in the cost of this report is more than $80,000.

However, about 75% of that amount will be covered by funding from the provincial and federal governments.

By investing $20,000, the city will also be able to tap into an additional $53,000 of government funding to be used for regional marketing.

The majority of council felt the investment was worthwhile because the city would be "leveraging significant dollars" from the provincial and federal governments to help further develop and promote its key tourist attractions.

Coun. John Curley said, "I want to make sure we cover all avenues before we do anything to that site.

"This is probably going to be our last chance to prove this site worthwhile."

Curley said the Shania Twain Centre has been challenged by the singer's lack of output in recent years.

However, he pointed out that Twain has just announced her engagement and suggested this may spur renewed public interest in both her and the centre.

"She just announced she's getting married," Curley said. "Maybe she'll get married in that building."

Most of council supported hiring the consultant.

Only councillors Rinaldo, Steve Black and Andrew Marks voted against the motion.

http://www.timminspress.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=2900260



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Council debates future of Shania Twain Centre


Closure one option for Shania Twain Centre, says councillor

By Kate McLaren, The Daily Press

While a report detailing historical statistics and recommendations to city council about the Shania Twain Centre and Underground Gold Mine Tour suggested investing money for enhancements to the attraction, one councillor brought forward another option.

During Monday night's committee of the whole meeting, Coun. Todd Lever said not looking at the option of closing the centre would be doing a "disservice" to Timmins taxpayers.

Lever's comments followed a detailed presentation by Fran Hohol of Burlington firm PKF consulting, who conducted the study demonstrating a significant dip in centre visitors since it's inception in 2001.

"I know it wasn't the role of this report to talk about closing it down, but we have to discuss it," said Lever. "It's an excellent tour and I love Shania — she's always promoting the city and talking about her Northern roots — but for a facility like this to succeed, we need community buy-in, and we're not getting that.

"This report represents a crossroads for council about whether or not we should continue to fund it."

The Ward 5 councillor maintained the importance of tourism to Timmins, but questioned whether municipal dollars could be better spent elsewhere.

"We have to consider where we're spending the money. The Under 17 tournament, the kayak challenge, the mining events, these are the type of projects we should be spending taxpayers dollars on.

"We need to invest in facilities that have a double benefit to the community."

Since use of the centre peaked in 2002 with 8,400 visitors, it's dropped by 66% to 2,800 visitors in 2010, explained Hohol.

The Underground Gold Mine Tour saw a decline of 36%, dropping from 6,200 visits in 2002 to 4,000 visits in 2010.

Last year's operational costs were $490,000, with municipal investments in both attractions ranging between $280,000 to $320,000.

"That means every Timmins resident pays about $7 to offset those costs," said the consultant.

While options provided included maintaining the status quo, operating both attractions on a seasonal basis, and a major capital investment to add an additional attraction element, the report recommended making modest enhancements to the centre.

"Nothing can survive if attendance keeps going down," said Hohol. "That's why we're recommending modest investments to fill in the gaps between the operating costs and the revenues generated by the centre."

The report suggested council commit to $250,000 in annual investments, introducing the public to "fresh, new displays" and attracting new investment in tourism expenditures.

Mayor Tom Laughren expressed optimism in the fact the report was funded in part by the provincial government.

"I think it's an ideal time to make these types of improvements. I think the government sees the importance of tourism in the area, and this is a great chance for us to reconfigure the centre and enhance it."

He added he hopes community partnerships will lessen municipal dollars required to operate the centre over time, and explained closing the centre would be detrimental to the city's tourism sector.

"You have to have the opportunity in any city for people to do things, to visit things, and you need to promote these things with the local people in mind.

"We all know there are challenges, but there's also a lot of opportunity to bring more people into the community. We've got a hub for tourism here, and this attraction is one of the spokes."

The report completes Phase 1 of the study, and Phase 2 is currently underway and includes a five-year business plan for the Shania Twain Centre and Underground Gold Mine Tour.

The plan is expected to be complete in four to six weeks.

http://www.timminspress.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3146375



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Interesting article.

POV: Report highlights the lack of effort developing Shania Twain Centre

By RON GRECH

There is a faction of residents out there who have never been committed to the Shania Twain Centre.

They don't believe in the institute of tourism, they don't want any money or effort put into it. Yet, they demand great returns.

If the Shania Twain Centre is deemed a failure, it's because the public holds unrealistic expectations and because the facility hasn't been managed in a way that continually stimulates interest.

Apart from the largest attractions such as Science North in Sudbury and the Agawa Canyon Tour Train in Sault Ste. Marie, tourism facilities in Northern Ontario draw only a few thousand people a year and lose money on an annual basis.

In that respect, the Shania Twain Centre and Gold Mine Tour is performing at a typical level. Put in the proper context, these types of attractions are not the be-all and end-all for Timmins tourism. They are simply part of the fabric that makes Timmins a place for people to consider visiting.

This month marks the 10th anniversary, since the centre opened.

Timmins council was presented with the interim findings from a five-year business plan for the Shania Twain Centre and Gold Mine Tour sites Monday.

The document reaffirms what we already knew, that attendance at the centre has steeply declined since hitting a peak 8,400 visitors in 2002 (the last year Twain released a CD of new music).

Last year there were 2,800 visitors.

The study notably points out there is no long-term development program to add a major new feature, activity or program every three to five years in order to keep the venues fresh, to support re-visitation and to be able to effectively compete.

Therein lies the problem. Need ideas to stimulate interest?

How about putting in a recording studio where local aspiring musicians can gain the experience of producing their own demos? Or, since the centre is sort of shaped like an amphitheatre, why not hold musical events there?

The consultant suggested introducing a travelling exhibit hall to feature different artists, preferably from Northern Ontario.

There are loads of possibilities.

Whatever the city does, it shouldn't let the centre die on the vine and then say it didn't work when it didn't put in a full-hearted effort.

It's like a marriage, you get out of it what you put into it. Instead of talking divorce, we should be reviewing how much effort has been put into turning this into a fruitful relationship.

http://www.timminspress.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3149365



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I think they thought they had a pot of gold and didn't have to worry or work hard to sustain the venture and make it profitable.

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PurplePeopleEater wrote:

I think they thought they had a pot of gold and didn't have to worry or work hard to sustain the venture and make it profitable.


 B-I-N-G-O!



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City considering future of the Shania Twain Centre

Tourism expert says such attractions are not supposed to make money

By Len Gillis / lgillis@timminstimes.com

At least one Timmins city council member believes the city should give consideration to the idea of closing the Shania Twain Centre.

That sentiment was voiced Monday night by Councilor Todd Lever as council was presented with a report on the Shania Twain Centre (STC) and the Timmins Gold Mine Tour (GMT). But Lever appears at this point to be outnumbered by council members who want to see what options are available to help the centre get more visitors and increase revenue.

The report was presented by expert tourism consultant Fran Hohol, of PKF Consulting of Toronto. Hohol outlined four choices in her report.

One option was called the Base Case Scenario, which is to maintain status quo, make no improvements and carry on as usual.

The second option actually involved two choices of downscaling both operations and running them only on a seasonal basis, or downscaling the Gold Mine Tour and closing the Shania centre.

The third option was the Enhanced Case Scenario where both attractions would get upgrades, improvements and better marketing.

The fourth option was the Expanded Case Scenario where significant capital dollars would be spent to add an expansion or additional element to the site of the STC and the GMT.

The study showed that attendance at the both the Shania centre and the mine tour has dropped in the ten years since the STC opened in 2001.

In 2001, there were 12,500 visitors; 4891 at the mine tour and 7609 at the Shania centre.

In 2002, attendance peaked at 14,567; there were 6203 at the mine tour and 8364 at the Shania centre.

"Since then, we have seen a big fall off," said Hohol.

She outlined that last year, 2010, saw 9151 visitors with 3807 visiting the mine tour and 2653 taking the Shania tour. There was also 2327 who attended meetings at the Shania centre and 364 discount tickets used.

NOT GOING TO MAKE MONEY'

Hohol was clear that neither operation is sustainable. It was mentioned that none of the tourist attractions in Northern Ontario enjoys that. Science North in Sudbury, the Polar Bear Habitat in Cochrane, Hockey Heritage North in Kirkland Lake and even the bush plane museum in Sault Ste. Marie are all money losers.

Hohol said the nature of such attractions is not to make money but to bring new visitors to the city and instil a sense of pride among residents for what their city has to offer.

She said if such attractions were money-makers, the private sector would jump in and take over.

"If you were actually to break even here, you'd be looking at something in the order of 35,000 visitors. It's not achievable," said Hohol.

She reported that the combined cost of the attractions is a net loss of roughly $320,000 per year. On the other hand, she reported that the visitor spending from the attractions is $1.2 million to the Timmins economy. Her report said that for every $1 invested by the City, there is a payoff of $3.80 spent in the community.

Lever complimented Hohol for the report's thoroughness and he told council he believes the idea of closing the Shania centre should at least be discussed by council.

"The Shania Twain Centre has been open for 10 years. We've spent considerable capital dollars and we continue to spend considerable taxpayer dollars, in the range of another $1.5 million plus per year, without us at least debating the alternative which is not on here, which is consideration of closing the Shania Twain Centre," said Lever.

"You know I think we are doing a disservice to our taxpayers," Lever added.

"I want to say I've been to the Shania Twain Centre. I've done the tour twice. It's an excellent tour. I mean I love Shania Twain. I think she has been our greatest ambassador. She is always promoting the city, talking about her Northern roots. And the staff there in phenomenal," he said, adding there is one crucial element that appears to be missing … not enough people in Timmins support the centre.

"I think for a facility like this to succeed, we need buy-in from the local members of the community. Unfortunately, I don't think that has been the case in these ten years. So really this report represents a crossroads for this council and the city in whether or not we should continue to fund this," he said.

"I have no problem spending municipal dollars on tourism and tourism related expenses. I think they do bring in dollars to the city, but we have to look at where we're spending those dollars in tourism," said Lever.

Councilor John Curley was one who spoke in favour of the future of the Shania centre, saying he prefers not to think of city spending as a subsidy, but an investment. Curley is also a member of the STC board of directors. He reminded council that the city also invests in such things as hockey arenas and ball-fields, because they too benefit the community.

"We have to invest in this to move it forward," said Curley.

Councilor Mike Doody was also in support of the centre, saying that the city should take a positive outlook. He suggested that sports tourism plays a huge role in Timmins and the city could improve its marketing toward that group.

Doody also remarked on the negativity many residents have suggesting that Shania Twain is being unfairly portrayed by people who may not like Twain.

"The lady whose name we use there, she didn't ask for it. We asked her. And you couldn't ask for a nicer lady if you ever had the opportunity to meet her," said Doody

Mayor Tom Laughren also voiced support for the future of the Shania centre. He said he is encouraged that the provincial government will be helping out with tourism marketing money in the future.

Laughren said the city might consider at looking at partnerships with other groups to keep the tourist attractions open, yet to find ways of reducing the cost to the city.

City council will now have to go through the report in depth, consider the options presented and decide on a course of action. That is expected to take several weeks.

http://www.timminstimes.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3151618



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Is that the blues the Shania Twain Centre's singing, or its swan song?

By TOM MILLS

In the Shania Twain Centre, Timmins has a tourist attraction that doesn't impress people much.

The woman it celebrates, Canada's second-best-selling songstress (behind Madame Celine), has endured great upheaval in her personal life and sadly can no longer sing for an audience.

But the Shania brand is still strong, as a new autobiography, From This Moment On, and a new television show, Why Not?, which debuted May 8 as the highest-rated premiere on Oprah Winfrey's cable network, testify.

But it has been anything but up, up, up for the tourist centre that Timmins built a decade ago, both to honour and to cash in on its famous former citizen.

Attendance dwindled to 2,800 last year from a peak of 8,400 visitors in 2002, the year of the release of Twain's last CD of new music. The Shania centre's companion Underground Gold Mine Tour has dropped from 6,200 to 4,000 annual visits in the same period.

Taxpayers' dollars are being tossed into these twin money shafts. They lost almost half a million dollars last year, despite municipal investments of about $300,000. A consultant's report noted Timmins residents pay an average of about $7 each to offset the costs.

That report raised several possible strategies, from cutting back to seasonal operation to making a major capital investment in an additional attraction. The consultants recommendation was "modest" annual investments by the city of $250,000 to introduce fresh, new displays.

Mayor Tom Laughren mentioned the possibility of community partnerships and hinted at the prospect of more help from the provincial government, which already chipped in for the consultant's study.

But at least one city councillor said Timmins must consider shutting down the centre to cut its losses.

It appears that in one short decade, the Shania Twain Centre has become an object lesson in how not to create a "destination" tourist attraction. I hope, and believe, that Sault Ste. Marie tourism officials, trying to create a major attraction on the Gateway site near the casino, have paid attention.

One lesson is that you can't merely build a shrine to someone, no matter how famous or popular he or she might be, and expect people to travel great distances to visit. Twain has sold more than 80 million albums and probably still has millions of loyal fans. But precious few of them have made the trek to Timmins.

Suppose someone in Sault Ste. Marie put up a museum to house the memorabilia of astronaut Roberta Bondar or NHL legend Ron Francis. These might be interesting places to spend an afternoon, memorable parts of a visit to the Sault. But I doubt if too many people would base their family's summer holiday decision on one such attraction.

Consider Dollywood, the Tennessee tourist attraction celebrating another country legend, Dolly Parton.

Dolly's music has outsold Shania's by only about 10%. Dollywood outdraws the Shania Centre one-thousandfold. Last year, about 2.5 million visitors travelled to economically depressed

Appalachia to visit Dollywood.

They didn't go there to gawk at the engineering marvel of the buxom crooner's support garments. Or not only. They visited for the "best roller-coasters in the Smokey Mountains," the daring water excursions, the demonstrations of turn-of-the-century crafts and the mountain lifestyle, films and live entertainment at nine theatres.

It's the total package that makes Dollywood that state's top tourist attraction and ranks it among America's Top 25 theme parks. I expect you could have fun at Dollywood even in the unlikely event that you had never heard of Dolly Parton.

But even Dollywood is part of a bigger collection of tourist attractions, and that's Lesson 2.

It's just a holler from Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which pulled in 9.4 million visits in 2010, tops among U.S. national parks and more than twice that of the Grand Canyon. It's only half an hour from Knoxville and only about three more hours to Nashville.

So it's both a multifaceted tourist destination and part of a greater web of tourist attractions in the area.

The Shania Twain Centre might follow either path, though it could hardly compete with the $162 million invested in Dollywood during its 25 years of existence.

Accepting and enhancing its role as part of the Timmins area package is a more likely choice. As Laughren put it, "We've got a hub for tourism here and this attraction is one of the spokes."

But if it costs far too much -- and $300,000 is far too much if it attracts just 2,800 visitors, some of whom might be local -- it could amount to a stick in the wheel.

Shutting down the centre and cutting the city's losses might not be a pleasant choice, but it's an alternative Timmins should at least consider.

I don't think Shania wrote one, but there are several songs out there about throwing good money after bad.

http://www.saultstar.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3155717



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Twain Centre gets new life

Council votes to enhance Shania Centre

By Kate McLaren, The Daily Press
6/20/11

City council decided not only will the Shania Twain Centre and Timmins Gold Mine Tour remain open, the city will work to enhance the facilities.

After being presented with a report by PKF consultant Fran Hohol on Monday, May 30 which presented several options for the sparsely visited tourist attraction, councillors were divided on what should be done with the centre.

The report, which outlined a decline in visitors over the past several years, made various suggestions including operating the attraction on a seasonal basis only, operating the Gold Mine Tour attraction only, and investing $1 million for expansions to both facilities.

The option approved by council Monday night, however, established modest investments over the next five years to enhance both the Shania Twain Centre and Gold Mine Tour.

With preliminary capital and development costs for the enhancements estimated at $100,000 for each facility, Hohol explained that the municipal investment per year in the attraction will remain roughly the same as the status quo, at approximately $311,000.

Last year's operational costs were $490,000, with municipal investments in both attractions ranging between $280,000 to $320,000.

"The cost factor is basically around the same dollar figures as they're paying right now, however, the enhancements will increase the numbers on the visitation side, so that should bring more benefits to the community through the visitors."

PKF Consulting will now work with centre staff to establish a five-year business plan, which could include enhancements like showcasing other Northern Ontario artists, offering an outdoor performance venue, or designing educational programs geared at elementary or secondary grades such as writing workshops.

Examples of enhancements to the Gold Mine Tour include the addition of a lookout platform to view the open pit operation, the redevelopment of the Prospector's Trail with new storyboards, and the relocation of the Hollinger Information Centre to the former Gold Mine Tour/Timmins Museum building.

Although the majority of council agreed with the need to salvage the centre, Ward 3 Coun. Noella Rinaldo was adamant about the attraction's location.

Rinaldo suggested the Gold Mine Tour should take up the entire space, while the Shania Twain Centre memorabilia is moved elsewhere, or celebrated on an annual basis during a Shania Twain Week.

"The location is just not right. It's a beautiful building from the outside, but I never did understand the connection between a country singer and mining.

"Perhaps the building should become the new gold mine tour.

"You're looking at little sequinned outfits and Grammies that are in direct sunlight, or in the dark. There's something about that area that just doesn't seem right for that."

She suggested expanding on the Gold Mine Tour.

"There's a lot of mining memorabilia that we don't see, perhaps that's where it should be is in that beautiful building from the outside, where you see today's mining tours, where you see some of our history."

Ward 5 Coun. Todd Lever also voted against the enhancements. Lever was initially the councillor who broached the possible option of closing the centre.

"It's not an issue of pride. We're all very proud of Shania, and that's always been the case. For me, it's a question of dollars and cents. It's $300,000 that the taxpayers are spending on the facility a year."

He explained although the PKF report predicts enhancements will attract more visitors, he's not convinced.

"We have the statistics in front of us. The greatest predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. I think we have to be realistic here, and the numbers speak for themselves.

"We're stewards of the public's trust, and we have to spend the money accordingly, so if we're going to spend money on tourist investments, there has to be some type of return, and there just isn't in this case."

For Shania Twain Centre manager Tracy Hautanen, the decision was a victory.

"We're very excited to move forward with the enhancements at the Gold Mine Tour and the Shania Twain Centre, and we're looking forward to working with PKF on the five-year business plan.

"To quote Shania, we can only go up from here."

http://www.thedailypress.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3179123



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Timmins council agrees to keep supporting the Shania Twain Centre

Council preparing to spend up to $200,000 to enhance tourist attractions

By Len Gillis / lgillis@timminstimes.com

Up, Up, Up, there's no way but up from here .... That verse from a popular Shania Twain song has to be echoing in the ears of the manager and volunteers at the Shania Twain Centre following a decision by Timmins city council this week to eventually spend $200,000 to enhance both the Shania Twain Centre (STC) and the nearby Gold Mine Tour (GMT).

Council's decision came after more than two hours of debate Monday night where, at one point, it was suggested that the Shania Centre could be shut down.

In the end the issue was decided by a five to three vote. Councilors Pat Bamford, Mike Doody, John Curley, Andrew Marks and Gary Scripnick voted to move forward with the enhancements. Councilors Steve Black, Todd Lever and Noella Rinaldo voted against.

City council took the action this week following a report tabled by tourism consultant Fran Hohol of PKF Consulting. It means the city will sit down with a group of stakeholders and committee members to work out of five year plan aimed at getting more visitors.

Hohol's report was commissioned to find out why the visitor numbers have declined over the past ten years and to explore solutions and alternatives.

Once a business plan is hammered out and some potential partners are identified, the plan is to spend $100,000 each on both the Shania centre and the mine tour. City of Timmins tourism manager Guy Lamarche was pleased.

"The capital investment of approximately $200,000 for both attractions represents a one-time investment and every effort to bring interested partners to the table will be made as we go forward with the development of a five-year business plan. This will include government and private sector partners that have a vested interest in tourism and support enhancements of the two  attractions," said Lamarche.

He added that the continuing operation of the Shania centre will mean an increase of $7,000 a year to 2016, by which time the subsidy will be roughly $310,000 per year.

Hohol said there are several ways to "enhance" the two tourism attractions.

"We've discussed long lists of items. A number of opportunities were brought forward by different stakeholders, but at this point now the hard part starts as to which ones make more sense than others, what are the realities around them, what are the costs around them and so on," she said

"If I could just speak to the Gold Mine Tour, there's certainly opportunities there and challenges with respect to adding to the tour from an open pit mine operation. So that will definitely add to the overall attractiveness of the tour itself and add a new element," she said. "But there will be challenges with how that gets coordinated with an active mining operation happening right next door."

As for the Shania Twain Centre, Hohol said there may be a move toward less focus on Shania herself and more focus on music in general with other Northern Ontario artists, in the hopes there will be more a "buy in" from the community.

Hohol added that recent announcements about Shania Twain's new songs and her upcoming engagements in Las Vegas can only be seen as a positive thing.

"That's definitely positive. Again I say you're still located in Timmins. So that comes with market realities of being in a more remote location, away from the greater population, which brings challenges," she cautioned.

Council's decision to move forward on the two attractions was welcomed by two key players on the city staff.

"The staff and I look forward to working with PKF Consulting and our many  tourism stakeholders on the next phase and developing a business plan that will be well received by the residents and visitors to our community. We have much to be proud of!," said tourism manager Lamarche.

"We're very excited to move forward at the Shania Twain Centre and the Gold Mine Tour," said Tracy Hautanen, the lone paid employee at the STC.

"We are looking forward to working with PKF on the five-year business plan and to quote Shania, we can only go up from here," she said.

http://www.timminstimes.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3184484



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POV: Study warranted for fate of Shania Twain Centre

By WAYNE SNIDER The Daily Press

June 15, 2012

One of city council’s longest running debates is about to become front and centre in Timmins again.

What should be done with the Shania Twain Centre?

Year after year, the centre has filled ledgers with red ink, spurring local politicians to question the wisdom of keeping it open.

It’s one thing to run a deficit on an attraction that is a must-see destination for tourists. It’s another to keep it afloat when public interest has clearly waned.

In accordance to the contract between Twain’s management, Maple Leaf Productions, and the city, 30-days notice was given to package and return most of the collection housed in the centre by May 30.

The fact that it took more than a week before anyone noticed speaks volumes of the level of interest in the centre as a tourism destination.

It was also announced, on the message boards of the official Shania Twain Centre website, that there will be not be a fan convention here this summer.

So, the big question remains — if the collection is not coming back, what should the city do with the building? And if the collection is coming back, is it the best use of space to devote it all solely to Twain memorabilia?

One thing in the favour of the centre is that it is a magnificent facility. It has been home to an number of community events — from a haunted house at Halloween to Canada Day celebrations. It has also been leased out for use by civic groups and corporate meetings.

Let’s not forget there are other uses at the site. The Timmins Underground Gold Mine Tour is still a going concern, complete with an elevator that came at considerable investment.

The gift shop is one of the best places in town to get souvenirs of Timmins. In addition to Shania Twain wear and collectibles, it has a host of Timmins and mining related gifts, plus local artwork.

And let’s not forget there is an old Hollinger House on display.

The screening area always provided a highlight of any tour of the centre. It is another big plus for the facility.

And, of course, there remains a vastly reduced collection for die-hard fans.

The Shania Twain Centre has a lot going for it. Opened in 2001, it is a state-of-the-art facility.

Deciding what to do with the Shania Twain Centre is a topic that will require considerable thought. Some of the ideas floating around the community include converting it into a full fledged mining museum or one for sports.

Clearly a study is needed by the city before any decision is considered.

Now is not the time for a knee-jerk reaction.

http://www.thedailypress.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3585829



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Hollinger Open Pit – The Challenges Part II

Sunday, October 14, 2012 2:24:12 EDT PM

By LEN GILLIS, len.gillis@sunmedia.ca

The Goldcorp Hollinger open pit project has special protection plans for the Shania Twain Centre. Timmins Times LOCAL NEWS photo by Len Gillis.
The Goldcorp Hollinger open pit project has special protection plans for the Shania Twain Centre.

Following is an in-depth Timmins Times report on the Goldcorp Hollinger open pit project.

THE CHALLENGES - PART II

One of the most talked about aspects of Goldcorp’s Hollinger open pit mine project is all about what is going to happen to the Shania Twain Centre and the Gold Mine Tour. There has been lots of speculation especially in the local Internet chat rooms and social media. There’s a good reason Facebook isn’t called FACTbook.

As to the question itself about what happens to the centre, the answer is … nothing.

Well, that’s the plan.

The BMP, or Best Management Plan, for the open pit project devotes an entire section to the question of protecting the Shania Twain Centre and the Gold Mine Tour.

To start off with, the road to the centre, will be relocated to allow for the placement of the berm surrounding the pit. It means the road will be located further south, well into the area of the old Hollinger golf course.

The buildings will remain and will be protected according to a specific plan in the BMP, outlined as follows:

“It is recognized that the proximity of the Shania Twain Centre (STC) and the Gold Mine Tour (GMT) to the Hollinger pit requires that specific measures and protocols be developed.

An Environmental Control Berm having a height of between 15 m and 20 m will be constructed between the STC / GMT site and the ultimate pit crest to minimize the impact of pit operations. Where offsets between the STC / GMT and the pit are restricted, engineered walls will be constructed using a combination of gabion type structures and acoustic walls. Where offsets allow, berms will be constructed of run of mine rock plus or minus overburden. Progressive vegetation of the outside slopes will occur where mine rock / overburden are used for berm construction.

 Blasting mats will be used on all blasts proximal to the STC and GMT to mitigate the potential of fly rock

 Blasts designed with smaller diameter holes and smaller blasts will be taken adjacent to the STC and GMT to minimize vibration and concussion levels.

 Vibration and noise monitors will be installed on the STC / GMT site.

 Pre blast inspections will be made of the facilities prior to the initial blasting proximal to the STC / GMT site.

 Signs will be posted at the STC /GMT notifying the public of blast times.

 Prior to blasting, personnel at the STC / GMT will be notified and the underground portion of the GMT evacuated if required.

 A post blast inspection will be made of the underground portion of the GMT underground by PGM (Porcupine Gold Mines) personnel to ensure it is safe to re-enter when blasting is proximal to the GMT. Inspection will occur before the next scheduled tour. Appropriate remedial actions will be taken as necessary and as soon as possible.

 Surface post blast inspections will be conducted by PGM personnel when requested by the STC / GMT staff.”

Also, according to the draft site plan control agreement, the City of Timmins will hold Goldcorp responsible for all and any damages to the Shania centre or the gold mine tour.

As to the future of the centre as a tourist attraction, and how often the centre will be open in any given week or month, that issue still has to be decided by city council at some point in the future.

http://www.timminstimes.com/2012/10/14/hollinger-open-pit--the-challenges-part-ii



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Shania Twain Centre may be shut down

Timmins council to debate future of shrine to music superstar

CBC News | Posted: Jan 7, 2013 3:05 PM ET

The future of the Shania Twain Centre is once again up for debate.

Timmins city council will look at what to do with the money-losing tourist attraction — including selling it — as the venue has struggled to attract tourists from the day it opened in 2001.

The multi-million-dollar shrine to the Timmins-born singer, along with the attached gold mine tour, continues to cost Timmins taxpayers hundreds of thousands every year.

Timmins city council was already weighing its options when, this past summer, Twain moved most her memorabilia out of her namesake centre. Monday night councillors were expected to discuss the future of the centre — first in private — and then at a public council meeting.

Councillors say the private session will likely deal with the possibility of selling the Shania Twain Centre.

No final decision is expected tonight, but there could be some fiery debate, as the centre has divided voters — and councillors — in her hometown.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/sudbury/story/2013/01/07/sby-shania-twain-centre-up-for-debate-timmins-council.html



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I'm sick and tired of of all the politics regarding the Shania Twain Centre.  If they think its a problem, then close it and give Shania all of her things back.  I hate the fact they are taking the money woes out on the centre.  I live in a very small town as well and when it comes to money, no matter how famous you are if your The Beatles or Madonna, you are going to be blamed for whatever problems they have.  In  Gary, Indiana,  there was a museum and golf course to honor Michael Jackson after he died and that never got started, because it going to cost $100 to $300 million dollars. 



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Shania Twain Centre in Timmins may be sold; mayor says offer made to Goldcorp

By: The Canadian Press | 1/7/2013 8:14 PM

TIMMINS, Ont. - Two Timmins, Ont., landmarks — the Shania Twain Centre and the city's Gold Mine Tour — may not be around much longer.

Timmins city council has approached Goldcorp Inc. to sell the buildings with a deal being finalized in the coming weeks.

Mayor Tom Laughren says the price of the sale and terms are not ready to be divulged, but says the deal could save the city around $300,000 annually.

Former manager of the Shania Twain Centre Tracy Hautenen says the city will continue to honour its mining heritage and honour Twain in smaller ways.

She adds that Twain, who grew up in Timmins, supports the sale.

Laughren says the Shania Twain Centre will remain open until the end of January 2013, after that any decision to demolish or reopen is up to Goldcorp.

"We went to Goldcorp with an offer and financially it made sense to sell the land as surplus. Council supports the deal and I full heartily support it as well."

http://www.brandonsun.com/national/breaking-news/shania-twain-centre-in-timmins-may-be-sold-mayor-says-offer-made-to-goldcorp-185957662.html



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RE: Council debates future of Shania Twain Centre - Closing end of January 2013


Timmins is preparing to sell off the Shania Twain Centre

By LEN GILLIS len.gillis@sunmedia.ca | January 7, 2013 at 10:53pm ET

In a move that is sure to polarize public opinion in Timmins, the City is taking steps to sell off the Shania Twain Centre, a building that by most standards, is still considered new.

Timmins city council unanimously voted Monday night to have the Shania Twain Centre (STC) and the Gold Mine Tour (GMT) declared as surplus to the city’s needs and thus available for sale. The city will be officially closing the centre at the end of January.

It was revealed in a statement read by Mayor Tom Laughren that the city is now in negotiations to have Goldcorp Porcupine Gold Mines purchase the building.

The mayor said it is too early in the process to discuss the possible price or any other terms of the sale, saying that the declaration of surplus property was only the first step in the process.

One of those watching the city council proceedings Monday was Tracy Hautanen, the former manager of the centre. Hautanen, who had been with the centre from the opening day, is now employed directly by Shania Twain as the operations manager of the Twain’s childrens’ charity known as Shania Kids Can.

Hautanen was diplomatic in her response about how she feels seeing the centre shut down.

“You can say that it’s being shut down by the city, but if you listen to what the mayor said today, the City is still very committed to having her memorabilia around the community and City is going to do right by that and she (Twain) is very comfortable with what the city is doing,” said Hautanen.

She sidestepped any question about how she felt about the city selling off the building or the possibility the centre might be torn down.

“You know what, …yeah, it’s a beautiful building, but that is out of my control,” she said.

Over the years, the centre acquired a significant collection of memorabilia including Grammy Awards, Juno Awards and personal items and stage costumes that far exceeded other individual personal collections by music celebrities, such as those on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

But the “If-you-build-it-They-will-come” argument failed for Timmins as it became apparent over the years that tourists were not willing to travel to this city to see the attraction.

The Timmins Times asked Hautanen why it never happened that the centre became the attraction that it was hoped to be.

“You know that’s hard to say. People will have a lot of different answers to that question. I can say we did our very best and it is what it is now,” said Hautanen adding that she’s glad the city will continue to have Shania Twain displays in yet-to-be announced locations in Timmins.

The centre was built at a cost of $6 million and opened on Canada Day in 2001. Most of the cost was paid by the province. Many critics grumbled when Twain was not able to attend the gala opening of the centre. It didn’t help that there many nay-sayers who opposed the project right from the start. It was such, that at the time the centre opened, a deejay from a top rated radio station in Los Angeles commented that it baffled his mind there were so many negative people in Timmins, Ontario.

Laughren said the decision Monday night followed the extensive tourism report prepared by PKF Consulting in 2011, which said the city could expand the operations, it could cut back the operations, or it could keep the status quo, whereby the city was paying roughly $300,000 per year to keep the STC in operation.

The mayor said the city considered the options of expanding the centre and stepping up the marketing campaign, but when those options were weighed against the challenges, it was seen that the decision to sell the attractions is the best decision overall.

He said the city also looked at Goldcorp’s pit mining plan and saw that the centre was so close to the pit, the mining company might actually be interested in the purchase.

Laughren emphasized that it was the city that went to Goldcorp, not the other way around.

When asked by The Timmins Times if the city might face criticism for being short-sighted in the decision to sell of the facilities, Laughren said the decision was carefully thought out.

“Well I think really what this is, is a, you know, time for a direction change. I think when you look at attractions just in general across North America, they all struggle. I think there’s on opportunity to better tourism for the City of Timmins going forward,” the mayor replied.

Laughren added he is confident there will be more public support for the decision once the city administration completes negotiations with Goldcorp. He said there is definitely going be an effort made at recovering the cost of building the centre. Laughren could not say however whether Goldcorp might keep the building as some sort of office facility or demolish the centre to make pit mining more easy and affordable.

http://www.timminstimes.com/2013/01/07/timmins-takes-steps-to-sell-of-the-shania-twain-centre



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Shania Twain Centre to be sold to Goldcorp

Today City Council declared the Shania Twain Centre & Gold Mine Tour lands and buildings as surplus to the ongoing needs of the municipality. City Council also approved the direct sale of the Shania Twain Centre, Timmins Underground Mine Tour and all associated lands to Goldcorp. After carefully reviewing recommendations contained in a report prepared by PKF Consulting, Council directed administration to approach Goldcorp in order to gauge their interest in the possible purchase of the City owned attractions and associated lands. After many meetings with Goldcorp’s senior management team, an offer to purchase the Shania Twain Centre, the Timmins Underground Mine Tour and all surrounding lands was made by Goldcorp.

According to Mayor Laughren,” the decision to close the attractions was difficult to make. The PKF Report shed some light on the current state of business for both attractions and more importantly, confirmed that the centre would require continued subsidies from the City of Timmins estimated at $300,000 / annum. In today’s economic climate, it’s important we make economically prudent decisions and practice financial discipline with the City’s available sources of funding. We see a great opportunity to continue featuring both our home town star and our mining heritage inother, more cost effective ways and will be working on a comprehensive plan to continue showcasing this city’s proud heritage” added Mayor Laughren.

Maple Leaf Productions, the company overseeing the Shania Twain collection removed the lion share of the collection earlier this year as they understood the City of Timmins was facing many changes and supported the downsizing of the exhibit space used for the Shania Twain collection. Maple Leaf Productions looks forward to working with the City of Timmins in the future to securely display parts of the Shania Twain collection in agreed upon locations throughout the community if that is the course the City chooses.

It’s expected that the Shania Twain Centre will remain open until the end of January 2013 .

For more information contact Mayor Tom Laughren 705-360-2600 ext 2005.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Shania-Twain-Centre/97316088358



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Shania centre sell-off

By Benjamin Aubé | Monday, January 7, 2013 10:25:30 EST PM

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.

Coun. Steve Black thanked staff for the work done at the centre, saying, "They have done a good job with the facility and represented Shania and our community well.

"I look forward to continuing the see some of the memorabilia throughout the community and still see her presence here."

Coun. Pat Bamford said he was "very, very proud of Shania," and "what she stands for is what the mining community has stood for, and that's hard work and perseverance."

The future of the building that once housed the Shania Twain Centre is still murky, though the mayor said it will be completely up to Goldcorp once the sale is complete.

Tracy Hautanen was general manager from the time the centre opened its doors in 2001, until last year, when she became co-ordinator of Twain's children's charity program, Shania Kids Can.

"You can say that (the Shania Twain Centre) is being shut down by the city, but if you listen to what the mayor said today, the city is still very committed to having her memorabilia around the community," said Hautanen, who attended Monday's council meeting. "If the city's going to do right by that, and she's very comfortable with what they're doing, she supports this community wholeheartedly."

Along with Twain, perhaps Timmins' most well-known former resident, mining will continue to be a big part of the City's tourism strategy moving forward, despite the unknown future of the Underground Gold Mine Tour.

A new tourism strategy is expected to be released at the Jan. 28 city council meeting.

"When you look at the history of the city of Timmins, mining is very important," said Laughren. "And I think both (Shania Twain and mining), as it relates to tourism in the city, will be prevalent and forefront.

"There was that option (to invest more money in it) as well, but when you weighed them against the challenges, this was the better opportunity."

http://www.timminspress.com/2013/01/07/shania-centre-sell-off



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Gold miner to scoop up Timmins' Shania Twain centre

Deal has been in the works for 1.5 years to sell the money-losing attraction to Goldcorp

CBC News | Posted: Jan 8, 2013 10:07 AM ET

The City of Timmins has made a deal to sell the Shania Twain Centre to a mining company.

Mayor Tom Laughren said the tentative agreement, which has been in the works for a year and a half, was announced at Monday night's Timmins city council meeting.

Council was struggling with plans for the money-losing Shania Twain Centre, while next door, Goldcorp was planning a new open pit mine. Laughren said the city pitched the idea to the mining company and, after months of meetings, they struck a tentative deal.

But he said it'll be hard handing over the keys, knowing $4 million in tax dollars went into building the failed tourist attraction just 12 years ago.

"That's why these decisions are never easy ones,” he said.

Centre needed 'local buy-in'

Laughren added a lack of support by Timmins residents was part of the problem.

"Any successful centre definitely needs local buy-in,” he said.

“Locals [need to be] taking people and, obviously, the last few years, that was not the case."

Laughren noted stepping away from the Shania Twain Centre and the attached gold mine tour is a step toward a new tourism strategy for Timmins.

But, as city councillor Pat Bamford said, the city is not stepping away from Shania.

"We're not severing our relationship with Shania Twain,” she said. “We're very proud of her."

The sale of the Shania Twain Centre is expected to be finalized over the next two weeks, leading up to another vote of Timmins city council.

Mayor Laughren says once the deal is done, the sale price will be made public.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/sudbury/story/2013/01/08/sby-shania-twain-centre-timmins-agrees-sale-to-goldcorp.html



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Honestly, I never understood why it was built in the first place. This is not surprising. Perhaps if Shania was more involved with it--showed up for the fan conventions and such--made more appearances, it would have done better. But the biggest thing is that the residents of Timmins had no need for it--and you need the locals (just like a local zoo or museum in any town) to support it and frequent it and that was just not happening....

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Its still sad but ya I agree with you Butters. If its not making any money then might as well shut it down. 



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Demolition planned for Shania centre

By Ron Grech, The Daily Press (Timmins) | Wednesday, January 9, 2013 8:40:07 EST PM

TIMMINS - The Shania Twain Centre and Underground Gold Mine Tour will be history in more ways than one if Goldcorp Canada completes a deal to purchase the land where those attractions are located.

“If an agreement can be reached, our plans are to demolish both,” Domenic Rizzuto, manager of human resources and corporate social responsibility for Goldcorp’s Porcupine Gold Mines, told The Daily Press.

Goldcorp’s interest in the property comes at a time when the company is developing an open pit mine in an area pocked by subsidances from the old Hollinger mine workings.

The original proposed layout of the open pit saw the exterior wall or berm curving around the property where the Twain centre and mine tour site are located. If the land sale goes through, there will be less need for Goldcorp to prevent the berm from encroaching in that area.

“Goldcorp is in discussions with the city to purchase the Shania Twain Centre and Gold Mine Tour because there is an economic case to so,” said Rizzuto.

Timmins council announced on Monday the city was close to finalizing an agreement to sell the Twain centre and mine tour property to Goldcorp.

The potential sale price has not been revealed.

Timmins Mayor Tom Laughren said they were not in a position to publicly discuss dollar figures since the two sides were still in negotiations.

Laughren acknowledged the Twain centre and underground tour was costing the city a combined total of about $300,000 a year to maintain.

On Monday, Council unanimously supported taking the first step in selling the property by declaring it as “surplus” land.

The Shania Twain Centre opened July 1, 2001. The development of the centre was part of a $10-million upgrade of the tourist site shared by the two attractions. The construction of the centre was reported at the time to be approximately $5 million.

http://www.timminspress.com/2013/01/09/demolition-planned-for-shania-centre



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Shania Twain Centre - Closing at end of January 2013/Being demolished


‘With tourism, you need local buy-in to succeed’: Why Shania Twain’s shrine died, but Anne Murray’s lives on

By Tristin Hopper | National Post | Jan 10, 2013 8:33 PM ET

Last week, Timmins city council announced the Shania Twain Centre, the city’s 11-year, multi-million-dollar bid to lure tourists to the heart of Northern Ontario, was coming to an ignominious end.

Responding to Timmins’s entreaties, Vancouver-based Goldcorp bought the property for an undisclosed sum and, within a few years, the site of the 12,000-square-foot centre will be part of a new mining project.

“I think they probably are going to take the buildings down,” said Tom Laughren, Timmins mayor.

Meanwhile, 2,000 kilometres away in Springhill, N.S., the humble shrine to Canada’s other great female country singer, Anne Murray, is set this summer to ring in its 24th year: the same age at which its namesake recorded the breakout hit, “Snowbird.”

Two small Canadian mining towns, both of whom spawned famous singers, yet one attraction lives while the other dies. The reason, it turns out, may be a fable of nostalgia versus modernity, grassroots gumption versus government bungling and the cruel twists of highway geography.

“She’s our hometown girl,” said Maxwell Snow, Springhill’s mayor.

Until their favourite daughter became the CanCon selection of choice in the mid-1960s, Springhill was mostly known to Canadians as the site of two devastating mine disasters.

Describing the Anne Murray Centre’s late-1980s origins as “grassroots,” employee Marcie Meekins said it was spawned by some volunteers with the Springhill Industrial Commission who teamed up with her mother Marion. They raked together grants and established the small, brick centre, which is open seasonally and run by a volunteer board.

The Shania Twain Centre, meanwhile, was birthed by city council decree.

In the late 1990s, at the height of Ms. Twain’s career, citizens noticed fans poking around for Twain-related monuments or landmarks. Local officials on the lookout for an attraction to complement their longstanding Underground Gold Mine Tour got an idea.

“The initial thought was that, if these people are already coming to Timmins, let’s give them something more to see,” said Tracy Hautanan, the centre’s former manager.

A delegation approached the singer, who responded with offers of gold records, memorabilia, even her tour bus and a surplus stage.

“She very much held up her end of the deal,” said Ms. Hautanan. “Whenever she won an award, it was shipped to the Shania Twain Centre. Any outfit she wore publicly ended up on display within weeks.”

Rounding up $6-million in municipal funding and federal grants, Timmins outfitted its centre with a massive, high-ceilinged lobby and a recreation of the Maple Leaf Hotel bar, where Ms. Twain had some of her first gigs.

Visitors peaked in 2002 at 8,400, and by 2010 only about 2,000 were plunking down the $10 for admission. At Timmins’ 9th Annual Shania Twain Fan Convention in 2011, only 20 people showed up.

Burdened with high overhead costs, by its final year of operation, the centre was hemorrhaging $300,000 a year.

“Shania Twain herself is very popular [in Timmins], but I’m not sure that extended to the centre itself,” said Mayor Loughren. “And with tourism, you need local buy-in to succeed.”

Last summer, sensing the end was nigh, Ms. Twain moved her artifacts to more visited locations.

Mr. Loughren ticked off a standard list of low-tourism justifications: SARS, the struggling U.S. economy, the surging C$ and terrorism. “9/11 definitely changed the way people travelled,” he said.

Still, the Anne Murray Centre seems to have dodged the perils of pandemics and Saudi hijackers. “The summer before last when the economy was so bad, the Anne Murray Centre still attracted an increase of 600 new visitors,” said Mr. Snow.

It helps that Springhill straddles the corridor between Montreal and Halifax. “Just five kilometres off the highway,” he added.

Any Twain fan making the trip from Toronto to Thunder Bay, meanwhile, would need to take a 90-minute detour to swing through Timmins and pray her centre was open.

Which is probably why most of her fans are opting for a ticket to Las Vegas to catch her live at Caesars Palace.

“Museums are about loss, they’re about preserving things that we don’t have anymore,” said Stuart Henderson, a professor of cultural history at McMaster University.

“We’re just not done with Shania Twain yet, at least not in the same way that (sorry Anne Murray) we are done with Anne Murray.”

Fortunately for Springhill, Ms. Murray’s twilighting career is a good recipe for ensuring a higher rate of Anne sightings: “Anne spends her summers in Nova Scotia so we see her quite frequently and she always makes one scheduled public appearance to commemorate the Centre’s anniversary,” wrote Ms. Meekins.

Ms. Murray’s career has traded on the rural charm of her Acadian, maritime roots — an aspect played up by the Springhill attraction. Ms. Twain’s catalogue of catchy pop hits, by contrast, has never really exemplified the flannel and grime of a Canadian Shield mining town.

Notably, the videos for two of Ms. Twain’s biggest hits, Man! I Feel Like a Woman! and That Don’t Impress Me Much, were shot in the decidedly un-Canadian locations of New York and the Mojave Desert, respectively.

“You can’t immerse yourself in Shania Twain in Timmins because Timmins is not really a part of her,” said Mr. Henderson.

http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/01/10/shania-twains-shrine-died-but-anne-murrays-lives-on/



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Council debates future of Shania Twain Centre - Closing at end of January 2013


From gold records to a gold mine: It's curtains for Shania Twain shrine in Timmins, Ont.

JACQUELINE NELSON | The Globe and Mail | Thursday, Jan. 10 2013, 10:38 PM EST

Memphis has Graceland, Liverpool has The Beatles Story. And until Jan. 30, Timmins, Ont., has the Shania Twain Centre.

That’s the day the city will lock the doors for the last time on the images and memorabilia that once belonged to the world’s top-selling country artist.

In late 2000, when Timmins set out to build the museum for $3.7-million, the Grammy-winning queen of country had two acclaimed albums under her belt, including one of the best-selling albums of all time. Two years later, her fourth album – another acclaimed success – landed on shelves. But after a greatest-hits collection in 2004, Ms. Twain began to fade from public view.

Last spring, the singer boxed up some of the awards and costumes from the centre and sent them to Las Vegas, where her new show Still the One plays at Caesars Palace. After selling more than 34 million albums worldwide, she follows in the footsteps of another top-selling Canadian darling, Celine Dion.

“Obviously her career is going in a new direction,” said Tom Laughren, mayor and lifelong resident of the city in Northern Ontario.

Timmins, on the other hand, is turning back toward a mine that the city was built alongside – one that’s been in and out of production since 1910, and is deep in the city’s DNA.

For a city proud of its industrial roots, progeny Ms. Twain once seemed like Timmins’s ticket to connect with a new kind of visitor. Even if the museum dedicated to her didn’t make money, it would enhance public culture, leaders reasoned. But with a fading star and a quiet tourist hub – the centre has been drawing 10,000 to 12,000 visitors annually – on its hands, city council conceded it was time to sell the land. To do so, it approached the same kind of company that donated the plot in the first place: a gold miner.

Goldcorp Inc. was approached by Timmins in 2011 as the museum’s $300,000 yearly operation costs weighed steadily heavier on city council. If a deal is struck this year, the miner is poised to flatten the centre and harvest the last of the gold from a historic open-pit mine abutting the plot. It’s a return to reality for Timmins’s economy, ever dependent on mining.

Construction on the 575-square-metre 6,200 sq. ft. centre was originally designed to enhance an adjacent tourist destination: the Timmins Underground Gold Mine Tour. The city thought its new addition, along with the historical site, would attract double the number of visitors, to around 20,000 people each year.

But that never happened. The mayor thinks major events changed the way people travelled: Sept. 11, SARS and the recession, to name a few. The council invested in consultants, and considered partnering with other northeastern Ontario centres, but ultimately it couldn’t be sure further investments would lead to an improvement in foot traffic.

Eyes began to wander to Goldcorp Inc., a major Canadian gold producer that started moving into the region about seven years ago. It began doing preliminary drawings, and then came the community meetings. “I think there was a realization on the council maybe this was the time to look at other opportunities,” Mr. Laughren said. The two sides are now working on a deal.

While fondness for Ms. Twain lingers in Timmins, the people who live in the city would gain, in Goldcorp, a partner to help close a 102-year-old mine that is fenced off and peppered with sinkholes.

Goldcorp’s plan is part mining, part restoration. First, the company will spend 10 years mining out the last approximately 800,000 ounces of gold, worth $1.3-billion. “After that, the land will be reclaimed and restored to a natural-like state for public use,” said Domenic Rizzuto, a manager of human resources and corporate social responsibility at Goldcorp. That process with take a few years.

“The myth that people build these centres to make money, I don’t necessarily think that’s the case,” said Mr. Laughren. “I mean, you hope they’ll break even, but really they are to … give the local people the opportunity to showcase the community by taking tourists through.” Next time, Timmins may do things differently.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/lack-of-tourism-forces-closure-of-shania-twain-centre-in-timmins-ont/article7207977/



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“You can’t immerse yourself in Shania Twain in Timmins because Timmins is not really a part of her,” said Mr. Henderson.

What a completely idiotic thing to say--Shania loves Timmins. She is Timmins. Not a part of her?? She is Canadian brush-girl all the way.....

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Not everyone is happy to see the sell-off of the Shania Twain Centre

By Len Gillis | Friday, January 18, 2013 1:22:06 PM EST

As the “going out of business sale” at the Shania Twain Centre / Gold Mine Tour began Friday morning, some of the bargain shoppers dropped by just to see the buildings before the sale becomes official.

The sale includes all the apparel, the jewellery, the 100th anniversary items, Timmins brand items and Christmas decorations.

The last minute bargains come as Timmins city council appears ready to approve the sale of the two tourist attractions to Goldcorp Porcupine Gold Mines. The issue is expected to be formally decided at Monday night’s meeting of Timmins city council.

City council has directed city hall staff to negotiate a fair price for the attractions in view of the fact that the city would welcome a significant amount of cash at a time when it is managing a huge debt to pay for the new sewage plant and improvements to the water filtration plant in recent years.

Goldcorp is in the process of getting final approval for a new open pit gold mine to be located on a large tract of land north of the Shania centre running from the water tower to Schumacher.

Council has already voted unanimously to declare the Shania Twain Centre and the Gold Mine Tour as surplus and not needed, so the decision to actually sell the facilities to Goldcorp will most likely be determined by the price.

One of the shoppers at the Shania Centre Friday morning was city resident Wayne Brown, who dropped into to buy some books and look around the building one last time. He said he was not happy to see the sell off.

“This is a tourist attraction for Timmins and Timmins doesn’t have many of them. I really liked this place, you know. And I like the mine,” said Brown

“I think people coming up here would love to go through a mine tour, and if they build another one, that would be alright.”

Brown doesn’t believe the city is making the move for economic reasons as has been stated at city council.

“I think that this is all about Goldcorp. The city gave into them way too easy,” said Brown.

“I just don’t believe they (the city) should have to get rid of something like this. They’re giving in to these big companies and it’s happening all over town. I don’t like it, not at all.”

He was also sceptical that the building itself, less than 12 years old, would be saved

“Goldcorp’s not going to keep it up. You know as soon as they can buy it, they’re going to tear it down. They should have made a deal, tell them you’ve got to build another one someplace,” said Brown.

Also shopping on Friday morning was Paul Gaudreau, a member of the city council that approved the construction of the Shania centre back in the late 1990s.

He said he isn’t entirely happy to see the building being sold, but said he can understand the reasons.

“It’s sort of sad. You know we did a lot of work in trying to make sure that this place could be successful in Timmins. All of the studies that we had indicated the tourism level would be great and that Timmins would finally have a major-class tourist attraction,” said Gaudreau.

“And now we find ourselves today with closing it,” he said. “I am sad to see it close but on the other hand I think we have to stop putting money into something that isn’t going to be successful.”

Asked whether he believes city council has sound economic reasons for the decision to sell, Gaudreau said yes.

“Oh absolutely I have been listening to it for years, you know always with the attitude that maybe this can change, but the problem is, is that it’s not changing and it was probably just going to get worse and trying to do all kinds of little things in here to amuse children aint going to make this place successful,” said Gaudreau.

http://www.timminstimes.com/2013/01/18/not-everyone-is-happy-to-see-the-sell-off-of-the-shania-twain-centre



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Come on over ... clearance at Shania Centre

By Kyle Gennings, The Daily Press (Timmins) | Thursday, January 17, 2013 8:48:25 PM EST

TIMMINS - Come on over … for deals.

The Shania Twain Centre's gift shop is hosting a clearance event over the coming weeks to ensure that everything goes before Goldcorp takes possession of the property.

From core samples to Timmins 100th anniversary swag, according to gift shop manager Dave Melenchuk, everything has to go.

“The Shania Twain Centre memorabilia, Timmins 100th souvenirs and Christmas decorations are all on sale,” he said. “We've had quite a lot of traffic. It is mostly people inquiring about the sale, but it is traffic nonetheless.”

It is an definite high in recent months, a final moment in the lime-light before the curtain drops on the facility.

“It has been more busy than it had been through December, but I expect traffic to really pick up once the official announcement is made tomorrow,” he said. “We definitely have more inventory in the back that I still have to take out, but we are definitely looking to clear the shelves.”

The sale is already in full swing and will last through January.

“The sale will go on until February 1st, with all items at 50% to 75% off,” said Melenchuk.

“I hope that everything is gone by that point. But if it isn't some of the excess stock will go to the museum and we are going to hold onto anything that we can salvage and possibly have a store front at some point down the road.”

Maintaining a tourist friendly shopping opportunity is a priority for the city's tourism department.

“The tourism department would like to look at opening a store front,” he said. “Just so that we can still have a place where we can sell Timmins items, souvenirs, apparel and so on.”

The Centre will be emptied of all city-owned paraphernalia before Goldcorp takes possession of the building.

“All of the shelving and display cases will remain with the city to be used elsewhere,” he said.

“We are going to salvage what we can and then when Goldcorp does come in, they will take down the actual building.”

This applies to the Gold Mine Tour as well.

“We've got lots of cover-alls, hard hats and head lamps and all sorts of equipment that goes along with it that will be distributed to different departments,” said Melenchuk.

There are still a few items of Shania Twain memorabilia on display for the public to view (and are not for sale).

“We still have a few of Shania's outfits still kicking around, like the outfit that she wore when she ran the Olympic torch through the city,” he said.

“We have her '96 homecoming outfit as well along with some other items of clothing and numerous pictures and it's all free of charge (to view).”

The gift shop is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday with a one-hour break between noon and 1 p.m.

http://www.timminspress.com/2013/01/17/come-on-over--clearance-at-shania-centre



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Sale of Shania Twain Centre will bring five million dollars into the city treasury

By Len Gillis | Monday, January 21, 2013 4:28:13 PM EST

The bylaw prepared for Monday night’s city council meeting for January 21st, shows that the City of Timmins is prepared to sell the Shania Twain Centre for five million dollars.

Timmins is selling the Shania Centre and the adjoining Timmins Gold Mine Tour because of failing attendance and the fact that the operating cost for the facilities are roughly $300,000 per year.

Two weeks ago, Timmins Mayor Tom Laughren indicated the city believes this is a sound economic decision and that the city could well use a fresh infusion of cash to help offset the costs of improvements to the city’s water filtration plant and the new sewage treatment plant.

City council decided two weeks ago that the land for the Shania Twain Centre and the Gold Mine Tour would be declared as surplus so that preparations could begin to sell the land. Details of the city’s intentions were posted on the city’s website. No one forwarded any messages on the sale.

The Shania Centre lies in close proximity to the new Hollinger project open pit mine which is scheduled to go into operation this year. It is possible the buildings will be demolished as part of the operation so that Goldcorp can mine out the area that lies beneath the buildings.

The deal will give Goldcorp Canada 51 per cent ownership of the land and buildings and Goldcorp Inc. (the parent company) will have 49 per cent ownership of the land and buildings.

The agreement that has prepared for council’s approval calls for the closing date on the sale to be June 28, 2013. That will be 12 years to the week of the day the centre opened, Canada Day of 2001.

The agreement drawn up for city council’s approval has already been signed by Marc Lauzier, Goldcorp’s Mine General Manager in Timmins.

http://www.timminstimes.com/2013/01/21/sale-of-shania-twain-centre-will-bring-five-million-dollars-into-the-city-treasury



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STC, mine tour site to be sold for $5M

By Benjamin Aubé | Monday, January 21, 2013 10:38:12 PM EST

TIMMINS - The city has agreed to sell the Shania Twain Centre property to Goldcorp Porcupine Gold Mines for $5 million.

Timmins council authorized the deal by passing a bylaw Monday night.

“I think council has always been supportive, right from day one back in June 2011, to approach Goldcorp to say we would be receptive to looking at (a sale),“ said Timmins Mayor Tom Laughren. “I think when you look at the year and a half to get where we are today tells you how difficult it was and how much back and forth there was as it relates to this decision, as well as this opportunity.”

In April 2012, Shania Twain’s management company, Maple Leaf Productions, inquired about the possibility of removing some of the memorabilia from the centre for various other unrelated promotional activities.

Due to poor attendance at the Shania Twain Centre and the Gold Mine Tour, council took the proactive step of seeking out potential buyers for the land and looking for the best deal for the city and its taxpayers.

The sale between Goldcorp and the city will be completed on June 28.

“It’s a give and take,“ said Laughren about negotiating the $5-million price tag. “You can be very sure that we started off much higher and they started off much lower. We ended up where we ended up just based on that.

“I think it’s a good number. Again, we’d always love higher, but at the end of the day, that’s what negotiations are all about. In general, I think we’re all very happy with that number for sure.”

A city council report stated no official public complaints were received about the sale, one which has been generally met with little-to-no resistance.

Now comes the time to figure out what to do with the collection of paraphernalia from both the Shania Twain Centre and Underground Gold Mine Tour collections.

Guy Lamarche, the city’s manager of tourism, events and communications, echoed council’s sentiments and ensured the public that Twain’s association with the community will still be very strong.

Lamarche presented a myriad of tentative proposals to council for some of the Shania Twain memorabilia and unique mining artifacts the city will inherit through the sale. He said this is a case of “when one door closes, another one opens,” and that the city has a great chance to capitalize on an opportunity.

Lamarche said there is financial wiggle room to seek out a consultant to streamline and identify the best course of action for many of his ideas. These suggestions included setting up a self-guided Shania Twain tour throughout the city and moving mining artifacts and statues to high-traffic locations, like to the downtown business core.

He said the city could use its good relationship with Maple Leaf Productions to set up Twain memorabilia in places such as, “the airport, the Timmins Public Library, the museum, the McIntyre Community Centre Hall of Fame, Timmins Transit, Timmins High & Vocational School, Timmins Square or Tim Hortons.”

Lamarche also suggested that the Gold Mine Tour’s seven stone-carved statues of miners could be relocated and mounted on concrete pedestals at some of the main intersections and picturesque locations downtown.

It has already been made clear by the city that the last-remaining original Hollinger house, currently sitting on the property, will be preserved and moved to another location.

Challenges for any featured Shania Twain or mining memorabilia would include finding secure exhibit cases and locations, as well as reducing the risk of vandalism on statues or plaques.

While council unanimously approved the direction of keeping and improving the presence of both mining and Twain in the tourism sector, there will be some debate as to how to implement the plan.

Coun. Steve Black said he agreed that outside expertise would be required to manage future modifications to the Twain and mining collections. However, he balked at the idea that the city needed to hire someone to figure out things like where specific artifacts should be moved and displayed.

“I really believe we can do this in-house,” said Black. “This is our city, it’s our city’s heritage.

“I support the second part, using funds left over to actually manage the process, but I think we can do the first part (creating a self-guided Shania tour, relocating the statues) in-house.”

Lamarche said it was more than just moving a few statues and artifacts, and that planning would help streamline a better and more natural tourist attraction.

“It’s about creating a theme, a theme that makes sense,” said Lamarche.

Laughren said it was clear most of council supported the initiatives presented by Lamarche’s tourism team. It was just a matter of figuring out what to do next. He said time would be reserved at the next city meeting to flesh out more ideas.

He also reminded everyone present the Shania Twain Centre opened in June 2001 largely thanks to money and support from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC).

While the buildings housing the Shania Twain Centre and Underground Gold Mine Tour are slated to be destroyed, the mayor said that it’s part of the city’s commitment to the NOHFC to ensure the community sees the fruits of their labour.

“From an NOHFC perspective, I think there is a real willingness and knowledge from council and among local citizens about how important tourism and attracting people is to the local community,” said Laughren. “I don’t think there’s any argument there. I think this council is committed.”

http://www.timminspress.com/2013/01/21/stc-mine-tour-site-to-be-sold-for-5m



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Strip Scribbles

By Robin Leach | Posted January 22, 2013 • 6:13 p.m.

SHANIA’S SALE: Caesars Palace headliner Shania Twain has given the OK to her hometown of Timmins, Ontario, to sell her museum and its adjoining goldmine tour, and put the $5 million price to better community use. Her memorabilia will be moved to other locations, and the mine’s statues will be relocated and used at locations around town.

http://www.vegasdeluxe.com/blogs/luxe-life/2013/jan/22/strip-scribbles-paisley-bentley-band-perry-set-orl/



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Timmins council approves RFPs to find consultants with advice on Shania centre artefacts and exhibits

By Len Gillis | Monday, January 28, 2013 9:26:00 PM EST

The City of Timmins is putting out RFPs (Requests for Proposals) to find out what can be done with all the leftover exhibits from the Shania Twain Centre and mining artefacts from the Gold Mine Tour now that those facilities are being sold off to Goldcorp Porcupine Gold Mines.

Timmins city council decided on that course of action Monday night in view of the fact that the sale of the two tourist attractions will take place on June 28, in just five months time. Goldcorp is buying the properties from the city for $5 million to incorporate those properties into the new Hollinger open pit mine.

City tourism manager Guy Lamarche (top PHOTO at left) said because the city is selling the tourist attractions there is an expectation from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) that some of the revenues received from the sale will be re-invested to support a tourism development strategy for Timmins.

“In fact, they have requested a plan from the City outlining the tourism development,” said Lamarche. He said this is a perfect opportunity for the city to satisfy the contractual obligations with NOHFC.

NOHFC and FedNor both contributed funds towards the construction of the Shania centre and the upgrading of the Gold Mine Tour, back in 2000 and 2001.

Based on that Lamarche recommended to council that two RFPs should be put forward.

He said the first RFP would provide the expertise to create a viable theme or concept on how to relocate all the tourism assets and exhibits in a way that would make sense, be sustainable and be able to be maintained several years into the future.

Lamarche said the second RFP would be for hiring a project team to implement the recommendations from the first RFP and put the plan into action. This would likely involve another team of experts with specialized equipment for moving the Hollinger House, for example.

Several city council members agreed. Councilor John Curley seemed to sum it by saying it is not simply a matter of picking up all the leftover artefacts, putting them in a pickup truck and driving them to a downtown street corner. He said serious planning is required.

Lamarche agreed and indicated that despite some couch-potato criticisms of the idea, the plan does need help from experts. It cannot be done in-house, he said.

Lamarche said just getting all the work done within the five month deadline will be a challenge for the city and whoever is hired to do the work.

Among the items to be removed and re-located are the Hollinger House, the trapper’s cabin, the gold-pour refinery, the Jupiter Mine headframe, the blacksmith shop, rock drill equipment, the underground mine locomotive, a scooptram, seven sculptures of miners, exhibit cases and lighting displays from the Shania Centre. He added that Maple Leaf Productions, Shania's media company, has agreed to lend more exhibits in the future.

Lamarche said the new tourism displays will not be a destination attraction by any means, indicating it won’t be something like a Science North or Hockey Heritage North, where people travel just to see the attraction. Instead, he said, it will be type of thing people will enjoy seeing once they have come to Timmins, or are nearby Timmins, for other reasons.

No cost was mentioned for the RFPs but the money will not come from the city budget. Provincial tourism money, normally allocated for the Shania centre, will be used for the RFP along with part of the revenue derived from the $5 million dollar sale.

Mayor Tom Laughren told council he is confident this will not be a major expense and will use only a small portion of the money from the sale of the buildings.

http://www.timminstimes.com/2013/01/28/timmins-council-approves-rfps-to-find-consultants-with-advice-on-shania-centre-artefacts-and-exhibits



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Shania Twain Centre: Honey, I need a home

BENJAMIN AUBÉ | QMI AGENCY | 9:33 pm, January 29th, 2013

TIMMINS, Ont. - The city will send out two separate requests for proposals to relocate Shania Twain memorabilia and essential mining artifacts after the closure and selloff of the Shania Twain Centre and the Underground Gold Mine Tour.

City council approved the motion to send out the requests for proposals on Tuesday, after tourism manager Guy Lamarche presented a long list of relocation ideas for council to consider before saying that the city's ability to relocate the items can only go so far.

Paraphernalia from both attractions are looking for new homes after the land they sit on was declared surplus by the city and sold to Goldcorp earlier this month.

Lamarche said there's a lot more than meets the eye to planning asset relocation. Some of the ideas he presented included roving glass-case displays of Twain's memorabilia at places like the Timmins Victor M. Power Airport, the Timmins Museum: National Exhibition Centre or the Timmins Square.

http://www.sunnewsnetwork.ca/sunnews/canada/archives/2013/01/20130129-213309.html



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City seeks new home for artifacts

By Benjamin Aubé| Tuesday, January 29, 2013 9:08:46 PM EST

TIMMINS - Timmins council and the city's department of tourism are getting creative. But not too much.

Looking to find new homes for essential mining artifacts and Shania Twain memorabilia throughout the city, manager of tourism, events and communications Guy Lamarche presented a myriad of inventive ideas for council to ponder.

However, he said despite best intentions, the city's expertise in re-locationing such valuable and sentimental items can only go so far.

In response, city council supported a motion to send out two separate requests for proposals (RFPs) to move the project forward.

The elephants in the room are the remaining five years on a city agreement with both the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) and FedNor, which funded much of the development of the Shania Twain Centre and the Underground Gold Mine Tour.

Paraphernalia from both attractions are looking for new homes after the land they sit on was declared surplus by the city and sold to Goldcorp earlier this month.

There's an expectation from the NOHFC that some of the revenues received from the sale will be re-invested to support a tourism development strategy in the city.

City council supported the tendering of two RFPs related to the asset re-location project that will include the old Hollinger House, the Blacksmith Shop replica, seven stone miner statues and several of Twain's outfits and awards.

Coun. Todd Lever said that Lamarche "set out very clearly why we need this."

"These were funds that were previously allocated for what would have been a continuation of the business plan for the Shania Twain Centre/Gold Mine Tour," said Lever. "They're now being redirected to another strategy, so the city itself will not be paying funds out-of-pocket for this.

"One thing I think residents need to keep in mind is that in the original agreement with the NOHFC and FedNor for the Shania Twain Centre – to which they contributed the bulk of the funds to build – there's an understanding in the agreement that we're going to operate this site (and its contents).

"We need to maintain the spirit of the agreement, so we need them to be supportive of what we're doing because if they weren't they could potentially take some fairly aggressive measures," explained Lever. "For those reasons, I'm happy to support this."

The first consultant would be hired "to provide a relocation strategy and best practices" in regards to satisfying city and public demands, as well as the NOHFC and FedNor.

Lamarche said there's a lot more than meets the eye to planning asset relocation. He said that plans such as these require firms that specialize in design, drainage, respect site architecture, know cultural values, and "have a passion for creating and experiencing exceptional outdoor spaces."

Some of the ideas he presented included roving glass-case displays of Twain's memorabilia at places like the Timmins Victor M. Power Airport, the Timmins Museum: National Exhibition Centre or the Timmins Square.

There was also a sense of excitement in council surrounding the idea of relocating some carefully stone-carved mining statues and other related artifacts to available street corners around downtown Timmins.

However, Lamarche said the city doesn't have to expertise required when it comes to ensuring the proper protection of such structures in the face of elements such as weather, street salting and vandalism.

Once the first recommendations are approved, the second RFP would be tendered to seek out a project management team to actually perform and oversee the relocation of the assets.

Other than the sheer amount of time it could take to move the many artifacts from the former Shania Twain Centre and Gold Mine Tour site, most are fragile and hold significant and irreplaceable value to the entire community.

Coun. John Curley said that Lamarche "made a good point in putting these somewhere where they actually last."

"(It's easy to say) we're going to do it in-house and put the stuff in a bunch of boxes and move it; that's definitely not the case up there," said Curley. "There's a lot of history sitting up at that site that made the city of Timmins, and that's something you don't just pack up and throw in the back a pick-up truck and move it down to whichever corner you think it should go."

Coun. Pat Bamford was also on board after showing trepidation two weeks ago about the need to tender two separate RFPs. Because of "the sheer time and muscle" the project could take, Bamford said he had changed his tune.

"We can benefit from creative approach of someone doing this elsewhere and learned from their mistakes," said Bamford. "For us, it would be a one-time thing, and for something that's going to be on display for awhile, I think it's worthwhile to get some experts to look at some ideas.”

As the city prepares to tender requests for consultants to bid on, Coun. Noella Rinaldo said she liked where the plan was headed.

However, she said she didn't necessarily think it was being done for all the right reasons.

"The concern heard from the public, and it's also a personal concern of mine, is that the thought process is that we're doing this for tourism," said Rinaldo. "One of the things that came out out of the Timmins 2020 strategic plan was that we want community pride. To satisfy the contract is one thing, but the I think the public wants to know we're doing this for us.

"We need to do this, not for tourism, but for us."

She also said, "We have city buildings that had virtually no landscaping this summer and we have street poles that don't even light up – how we're going to light up statues, I don't know," but added, "I totally agree that two RFPs are what we need."

Lamarche said that, in regards to public concerns about proudly displaying and maintaining the city's heritage, no one need to worry.

"We would want nothing less than a maintenance plan showcasing who we are, where we've been and where we're going," said Lamarche.

http://www.timminspress.com/2013/01/29/city-seeks-new-home-for-artifacts



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Shania Twain centre literally becomes $10-million money pit of taxpayer dollars

By: Dean Beeby, The Canadian Press | February 1, 2013 8:34 AM

The Shania Twain Centre in Timmins, Ont., closes its doors for good on Friday. The centre, which was officially opened by Canadian-born singer Shania Twain during a ceremony in her home town of Timmins on Tuesday, November 2, 2004, had been open for three years but Twain was unable to attend the opening earlier due to a pregnancy and touring commitments. THE CANADIAN PRESS/J.P. Moczulski
The Shania Twain Centre in Timmins, Ont., closes its doors for good on Friday. The centre, which was officially opened by Canadian-born singer Shania Twain during a ceremony in her home town of Timmins on Tuesday, November 2, 2004, had been open for three years but Twain was unable to attend the opening earlier due to a pregnancy and touring commitments.

TIMMINS, Ont. - A tourist attraction celebrating country-pop singer Shania Twain has officially become a $10-million money pit of taxpayer dollars.
 
The Shania Twain Centre in this northern Ontario community permanently closes its doors today, barely a dozen years after its grand opening, and will be demolished to become part of an open-pit gold mine.
 
A sinkhole of taxpayer money, the centre consumed some $10 million in government funds for its construction in 2000-2001, and racked up more than $1 million in operating deficits in the years since.
 
Grant applications to the Ontario and federal governments in the 1990s projected annual attendance of 50,000 tourists by 2005.
 
Twain, now 47, grew up poor in Timmins, and got her fledgling start singing in local bars before striking it rich on the world stage in 1995.
 
But the sleek, modern structure, featuring displays of Twain memorabilia along with gold-mining artifacts, has drawn no more than 15,000 people in any year.
 
In the end, every resident of this hardscrabble, century-old mining town of 47,000 was shelling out $7 a year just to keep the lights on. And by 2010, each visitor to the centre was being subsidized to the tune of $33.72.
 
It was supposed to be the other way around, with the centre generating enough revenue to at least break even — that would require about 33,500 paying visitors annually — while filling local hotels and restaurants with tourists.
 
"We probably should have taken a better look at the numbers to ensure the expectations could be met," Mayor Tom Laughren said of the planning that happened long before he took office.
 
A 2011 financial analysis showed that Timmins city council faced continuing operating deficits of at least $233,000 a year no matter what future business plan it chose, whether expansion or scaling back.
 
So council last month announced a deal to sell the property to mining firm Goldcorp Inc. (TSX:G) for $5 million, just half of the tax dollars spent for construction.
 
Goldcorp, which will officially acquire the property June 28, plans to demolish the structure to make the gold-seeded land underneath part of a massive open-pit mine being developed adjacent to the town.
 
Recent media reports have suggested the centre cost as little as $3.7 million to build. But a May 2011 analysis by PKF Consulting Inc. in Toronto says the figure was actually about $10 million for all construction, including the building, site development and upgrades to the co-located gold-mine tour attraction.
 
The entire 65-acre site is to be razed, including the gold-mine tour facilities, and added to Vancouver-based Goldcorp's planned open pit.
 
For the last week, local residents have been picking over merchandise at the gift shop offered for up to 75 per cent off, including hockey jerseys emblazoned 'STC.' The sale was expected to bring in at least $25,000.
 
The sad end of the once-bright hopes for the centre began last May, when Twain's management company repatriated most of her memorabilia — including an entire tour bus — to Las Vegas, where the singer now has a regular show.
 
The city dropped the $9 adult admission fee to the Twain exhibits last summer, in recognition that only few items were left to see, including four dresses.
 
Municipal officials say Shania Twain and her management company, Maple Leaf Productions, were highly supportive of the centre over the years, and they lay no blame at her feet.
 
Instead, the city's tourism manager says passion trumped reason when planning took place in the late 1990s, with provincial and federal funding agencies buying in.
 
"The projections were extremely ambitious," says Guy Lamarche of discussions that happened before his time in the job.
 
"When people come forward to support projects, and bring a huge passion to projects, sometimes things get skewed. And in this case the projections never materialized — they were way off."
 
Mayor Laughren cites a series of problems for the failure of the centre, but calls the lack of local support by Timmins citizens a big factor.
 
Adds Lamarche: "The old adage 'build it and they will come'? Forget it. If you build it, you better be prepared to market it."
 
The city plans to place remaining Twain memorabilia and mining artifacts on display around the community, including the airport, library and even street corners.
 
But the fate of the $5 million in proceeds from the coming property sale is not yet clear. The Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp., a provincial agency, paid $5 million into the construction project under an agreement with the city that runs until March 31, 2018.
 
The NOHFC gave prior written permission for the sale to Goldcorp "with conditions relating to the earnings from the sale," said Julia Bennett, spokeswoman for Ontario's Ministry of Northern Development and Mines.
 
She did not spell out the conditions, but said "negotiations are underway to determine the next steps to get the best use of taxpayer dollars for growth in the north."
 
FedNor, the federal investment fund for Northern Ontario, provided $500,000 for the construction in a contribution agreement that expired in 2002. A spokesman said the agency has no claim on the sale proceeds.

http://www.brandonsun.com/business/breaking-news/shania-twain-centre-literally-becomes-10-million-money-pit-of-taxpayer-dollars-189338071.html



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Unlike its namesake, Shania Twain Centre in Timmins rarely drew needed numbers

By: The Canadian Press | February 1, 2013 8:32 AM

TIMMINS, Ont. - Attendance figures for the $10-million Shania Twain Centre in Timmins, Ont., which permanently shuts its doors Friday after failing to draw a projected 50,000 tourists a year. Numbers refer to combined admissions to the Shania Twain exhibits and to the co-located gold mine tour:

2002 — 14,567

2003 — 8,957

2004 — 7,617

2005 — 9,861

2006 — 9,857

2007 — 9,607

2008 — 9,617

2009 — 10,229

2010 — 9,151

(Source: PKF Consulting Inc. report May 2011)

http://www.brandonsun.com/entertainment/breaking-news/unlike-its-namesake-shania-twain-centre-in-timmins-rarely-drew-needed-numbers--189338401.html



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Timmins closes Shania Twain centre

Northern Ontario city sells land to Goldcorp for gold mine.

By CBC News | February 1, 2013 10:42 AM ET

A failed tourist attraction in Timmins is set to become the gold mine the city always hoped for.

The Shania Twain Centre permanently shut its doors Friday.

International gold miner Goldcorp will officially acquire the property in June. The company plans to demolish the structure to make it part of a massive open-pit gold mine.

City councillors decided several weeks ago the center was too big a money pit to keep subsidizing.

About $4 million in tax dollars went toward building the failed tourist attraction just 12 years ago.

The centre has racked up more than $1 million in operating deficits in the years since.

‘Should have taken a better look at the numbers’

Grant applications to the Ontario and federal governments in the 1990s projected annual attendance of 50,000 tourists by 2005. But the sleek, modern structure, featuring displays of Twain memorabilia — along with gold-mining artifacts — has drawn no more than 15,000 people in any year.

The now-47-year-old singer, who grew up poor in Timmins, got her fledgling start singing in local bars before striking it rich on the world stage in 1995.

In the end, every resident of the century-old mining town of 47,000 was shelling out $7 a year just to keep the lights on. And by 2010, each visitor to the centre was being subsidized to the tune of $33.72.

It was supposed to be the other way around, with the centre generating enough revenue to at least break even — that would require about 33,500 paying visitors annually — while filling local hotels and restaurants with tourists.

"We probably should have taken a better look at the numbers to ensure the expectations could be met," Mayor Tom Laughren said of the planning that happened long before he took office.

Sold for half of construction costs

A 2011 financial analysis showed that Timmins city council faced continuing operating deficits of at least $233,000 a year, no matter what future business plan it chose, whether expansion or scaling back.

So council last month announced a deal to sell the property to mining firm Goldcorp Inc. for $5 million, just half of the tax dollars spent for construction.

Goldcorp, which will officially acquire the property June 28, plans to demolish the structure to make the gold-seeded land underneath part of a massive open-pit mine being developed adjacent to the town.

Recent media reports have suggested the centre cost as little as $3.7 million to build. But a May 2011 analysis by PKF Consulting Inc. in Toronto says the figure was actually about $10 million for all construction, including the building, site development and upgrades to the co-located gold-mine tour attraction.

The entire 65-acre site is to be razed, including the gold-mine tour facilities, and added to Vancouver-based Goldcorp's planned open pit.

Clearing out the gift shop

For the last week, local residents have been picking over merchandise at the gift shop, offered for up to 75 per cent off, including hockey jerseys emblazoned “STC.” The sale was expected to bring in at least $25,000.

The sad end of the once-bright hopes for the centre began last May, when Twain's management company repatriated most of her memorabilia — including an entire tour bus — to Las Vegas, where the singer now has a regular show.

The city dropped the $9 adult admission fee to the Twain exhibits last summer, in recognition that only few items were left to see, including four dresses.

Municipal officials said Shania Twain and her management company, Maple Leaf Productions, were highly supportive of the centre over the years, and they lay no blame at her feet.

Instead, the city's tourism manager says passion trumped reason when planning took place in the late 1990s, with provincial and federal funding agencies buying in.

"The projections were extremely ambitious," said Guy Lamarche of discussions that happened before his time in the job.

"When people come forward to support projects, and bring a huge passion to projects, sometimes things get skewed. And, in this case, the projections never materialized — they were way off."

Mayor Laughren cites a series of problems for the failure of the centre, but calls the lack of local support by Timmins citizens a big factor.

Lamarche put it this way:

"The old adage 'build it and they will come'? Forget it. If you build it, you better be prepared to market it."

The city plans to place remaining Twain memorabilia and mining artifacts on display around the community, including the airport, library and even street corners.

Claims on sale proceeds

But the fate of the $5 million in proceeds from the coming property sale is not yet clear. The Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp., a provincial agency, paid $5 million into the construction project under an agreement with the city that runs until March 31, 2018.

The NOHFC gave prior written permission for the sale to Goldcorp "with conditions relating to the earnings from the sale," said Julia Bennett, spokeswoman for Ontario's Ministry of Northern Development and Mines.

She did not spell out the conditions, but said "negotiations are underway to determine the next steps to get the best use of taxpayer dollars for growth in the north."

FedNor, the federal investment fund for Northern Ontario, provided $500,000 for the construction in a contribution agreement that expired in 2002. A spokesman said the agency has no claim on the sale proceeds.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/sudbury/story/2013/02/01/sby-shania-twain-centre-closes-timmins.html



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Shania Twain Centre to finally be worth its weight in gold — as a pit mine

By Lindsay Jolivet | Daily Buzz – February 1, 2013

Sorry, Shania, you're not worth your weight in gold. Well, maybe you are, but the centre built in your name is not worth the gold mine beneath it.

The Shania Twain Centre in Timmins, ON, is closing its doors today, after a clearance sale that saw the last of the centre's merchandise sold at a 75 per cent discount.

Timmins City Council offered to sell the centre to the mining company Goldcorp in early January after finding that it would cost taxpayers $300,000 annually to keep the country singer's tribute running.

Shania's management company, Maple Leaf Productions, originally loaned the centre about $1 million of memorabilia including awards and clothing.

However, its struggling financial situation led Maple Leaf to remove most of the collection celebrating her early career and rise to fame. There simply weren't enough visitors to support the cost of keeping the lights on.

An analysis in 2011 by PKF Consulting found the centre cost $10 million to build, some of which came from federal government funding.

Shania didn't attend the grand opening in 2001 because she was pregnant, according to the website's timeline of events.

Now Shania's tribute will solidify its status as a money pit when Goldcorp demolishes the centre to build an open pit mine.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/daily-buzz/shania-twain-centre-finally-worth-weight-gold-pit-154815286.html



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Was not a good idea to start with. Should never have been built. Not surprising that it came down to this.

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Shania Twain museum and the fleeting nature of fame: Editorial

A Shania Twain museum in Timmins is being turned into an open-pit mine after tourists stayed away in droves. It just didn’t impress them much.

February 3, 2013

Stars don’t shine any brighter than Shania Twain. Canada’s queen of country pop has been a household name — and a recognized face — worldwide, selling more than 80 million albums.

Hoping to cash in on that glory the singer’s hometown of Timmins built the Shania Twain Centre in 2001 and packed it with the diva’s memorabilia. But an expected flood of tourists never came. In a testament to the fleeting nature of pop celebrity, and folly of municipal government, the centre closed this past week to be turned into an open-pit mine.

Sadly, the Shania Twain Centre just didn’t impress fans much.

According to the Canadian Press, construction of the museum and related attractions gobbled up $10 million in public funding. By 2010 attendance was so low and operating losses so severe that welcoming each museum-goer cost taxpayers $33.72. That’s a staggering burden. Theoretically, it would have made more financial sense to hand a $20 bill to prospective visitors arriving at the door and telling them to shove off.

Twain, too, has seen hard times. Despite headlining at Super Bowl XXXVII in 2003 her profile has dwindled. She still makes music but hasn’t had a chart-topper in years. A lot of Twain’s memorabilia was hauled away last spring to help support her Las Vegas show. And Timmins city council decided to shut the museum and sell it to Goldcorp Inc. for half of what it had cost to build.

There’s a lesson here for any city council tempted to gamble with taxpayer dollars on the fleeting glory of a local star. Considering a Justin Bieber Museum in Stratford? Think again. Or an Avril Lavigne Centre in Napanee? Forget about it.

What about a St. Catharines museum dedicated to Walter Ostanek? OK . . . that one just might work. But Canada’s Polka King aside, betting on the lasting fame of a celebrity makes a poor municipal investment.

http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2013/02/03/shania_twain_museum_and_the_fleeting_nature_of_fame_editorial.html



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Having been to the Shania Twain Centre twice, I can honestly say that it's failure has to do with one thing, LOCATION. It is 10 hours from Toronto. Tourists were never going to drive that far out of the way. And with the local community never supporting it, the place was doomed from the beginning. Had it been in Calgary, Toronto, Vancouver or any other place which draws tourists for a variety of reasons, I am quite sure that it would have survived. Tracy and Andrea did a great job with the Centre. There just wasn't the local support. And let's face it, Timmins will never be a big tourist draw.

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I agree with the above, but also you cannot discount Shania's part in its failure. You cannot expect a centre devoted to a singer who never tours, never puts out new albums or singles and rarely makes talk show appearances to remain viable and intriguing to the public at large. She never did a concert at the centre. Never showed up for fan conventions. All her choice. But those things would have helped.

I mean, unless you are a SUPER intense fan, it is not that exciting for the normal fan to pay money to walk around a "museum" filled with pics of an artist who used to be on the charts a decade ago.....

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LETTER: Shania Twain Centre demise should serve as a lesson

Hazel and Peter Williams, Thunder Bay | February 7, 2013

To the editor:

We recently read about the demise of the Shania Twain Centre in Timmins and we think it’s a heads up for Thunder Bay’s city council.

We previously lived in Timmins and it is so sad to hear that this multi-million venture has failed. That’s $10 million under the bulldozers.

Locally, several people want to put together a $106-millon venture in an event centre. Grand as it seems, the people of Thunder Bay could end up in the same boat.

We, the people, will have to pay for maintenance if the big-ticket shows are not well-attended. In Duluth, our American friends showed us a 15 per cent increase in all taxes when the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Centre significantly expanded. We don’t have multi-million populations nearby, like Minneapolis, as they do in Duluth.

Each taxpayer in Thunder Bay could have an even greater than 15 per cent increase on house taxes that already are too high. If Fort William Gardens has to be demolished, could we not be more economical and fiscally responsible?

http://www.tbnewswatch.com/opinion/262881/LETTER-Shania-Twain-Centre-demise-should-serve-as-a-lesson



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Timmins architect Georges Quirion is sad at the loss of the Shania Twain Centre, but he was glad to be the one who designed it.

By Len Gillis | March 6, 2013 | 7:40 PM EST

1297385601714_ORIGINAL.jpg?quality=80&size=810x&stmp=1362614160469
Georges R. Quirion - Shania Twain Centre architect

Someday soon, no one has said when for sure, a day will come that Timmins architect Georges R. Quirion really doesn’t want to know about.

That will be the day that the Shania Twain Centre is demolished. And when it is torn down, so will fall a little piece of Quirion’s heart and soul.

Quirion is the man who designed what is likely the best known building in Timmins -- the Shania centre. It is slated to be demolished as Goldcorp Porcupine Gold Mines moves ahead with plans for the new Hollinger open pit mine.

Timmins city council decided in January that the building was no longer sustainable as a tourist attraction and it would be appropriate to sell the centre to Goldcorp for $5 million.

Quirion is not faulting the decision by the City or by Goldcorp, but he admits he will always feel a sense of loss about it.

“I think there are very few architects that ever see their buildings go down in their lifetime,” said Quirion, who is now the executive director and manager at the J.L.Richards and Associates office in Timmins.

Planning for the building began back in 1999 and the official opening was held on Canada Day, 2001.

At the time, Quirion said he regarded himself still as a young up-and-comer, when he was employed by BH Martin Consultants Ltd. in Timmins and was assigned the Shania centre project.

“It was a very controversial project, right from the start,” Quirion remembered, as a municipal election campaign was also underway.

“Some councilors were saying they’re going to stop this, it doesn’t make sense, we have to relocate, it’s not the right spot, and all kinds of stuff, right. So I got a taste of the political side of it, at a very young age, which I found interesting because in my eyes, this was obvious, it was so important for the community,” said Quirion.

He recalled that he was still new to the architectural profession, having graduated after five years of university and then following that with a three year internship in the mid-Nineties.

“I had a big learning curve to climb,” said Quirion, adding that he took the assignment very seriously. So much so that he began researching everything Shania Twain had written and almost everything that had been written about Twain, by others.

“This was a once-in-a-lifetime thing, when you think of it, to be given this opportunity in your own community,” he said. “So I immersed myself in that to try to come out with something I felt could be captured in the building, through her.”

“There were two aspects I was trying to get out of this design,” Quirion recalled. “There was Timmins, the community, the gold, the industrial side of things that I wanted to come out and then there was her side, but to understand that, I read books, I read her lyrics . I thought I could find out who she was as a person, through her lyrics and her music.”

In remembering back, Quirion said he wanted the building to stand out, yet blend in with the local environment.

“I also wanted it to be welcoming. To give people the feeling they were being embraced and you were being welcomed, just like her. For me, I had taken that very seriously,” he said.

He was selected to be part of the Timmins delegation that travelled to Switzerland to meet with Twain and and get her input on the project.

“She was like really very, very supportive of this project. At the time, I remember she was so committed to supporting this. When we went to Switzerland she said, I’ve got all this stuff lying around the house and I’ve got to be careful who I lend this to,” Quirion remembered.

He said she was pleased to learn her memorabilia would be housed in a formal museum type setting where it would be properly stored and cared for. Quirion said the building was specifically designed to house museum items with a unique climate control system.

He also remembers that while it was fun to meet such a famous person, he seriously wanted her input on the new design. He said he recalled thinking: “How do I get her back into the mindframe of being in Timmins?”

That prompted a novel approach to getting Twain’s attention at the meeting in Switzerland.

DON’S PIZZERIA

Quirion said he put together documents outlining the site analysis, included some photographs and drawings, and even a piece of rock from the site.

Everything was placed into a large Don’s Pizzeria box, which he kept out of sight, until the last minute.“I kept the box hidden and then I reached down and pulled out the pizza box. She freaks out, saying Oh my god, you got me pizza from Timmins!”

Quirion laughed as he remembered explaining he couldn’t possibly bring pizza through Customs.

“I said ‘This is a little piece of Timmins to bring you back to the right mindset.’ So I opened the box with the presentation and I knew I had her attention.”

The design would include many local elements such as the zinc composite cladding, copper, polished granite walls, stone floors and the massive laminated timbers supporting the roof.

“In the old days all the mine tunnels were supported with heavy timber,” Quirion explained.

“I knew I had the opportunity of really trying to capture something. This was designed for a long time. Like it was meant to be timeless, to be part of the community and part of the landscape of the community,” Quirion said.

“Yeah, I was really proud of it, extremely proud.”

SHOCK AND DISAPPOINTMENT

Quirion’s manner changed as he recalled hearing that the building would be closed, sold and torn down.

“Oh well, I guess shock and disappointment. I was very, very heartbroken. Because again, I know the effort that was put into it there,” he said.

“I can’t give an opinion as to whether or not, you know, the City or Goldcorp made the right decision. They’ve done their studies. Its not like they blindly said, ‘Oh that’s it’. I don’t think they made that decision lightly.”

Quirion said his friends in the architectural community offered plenty of sympathy and “Overwhelming support”.

“People from Sudbury, Ottawa, Toronto, they were all sad. They knew how much this meant.”

He added that he does not want to be around the day the building is demolished.

But he said, he would do it all again if he had to.

“I guess if you had asked me, way back when, if the building was going to come down, ...would you still go through the process and the disappointment and stuff like that? Absolutely. It was well worth it,” Quirion said.

“I’d rather have the opportunity of doing it, and losing it, than not having done it at all.”

http://www.timminstimes.com/2013/03/06/timmins-architect-georges-quirion-is-sad-at-the-loss-of-the-shania-twain-centre-but-he-was-glad-to-be-the-one-who-designed-it-2



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Shania Centre sale awaits mine approval

By Ron Grech, The Daily Press (Timmins) | Wednesday, March 27, 2013 12:27:33 PM EDT

TIMMINS - The sale of the Shania Twain Centre property to Goldcorp is essentially a done deal.

However, the closing date of June 28 remains conditional on Goldcorp Porcupine Gold Mines receiving its permits to proceed with its Hollinger open pit project.

There is no guarantee Goldcorp will receive the final necessary approval by the end of June.

“We are currently awaiting the Environmental Compliance Approval for air and noise from the Ministry of the Environment,” Domenic Rizzuto, manager of human resources, and corporate social responsibility for Goldcorp PGM, told The Daily Press. “We have no time frame for when we will get the approval.”

In January, the city agreed to sell the property, which includes the underground mine tour, to Goldcorp for $5 million.

Timmins Mayor Tom Laughren said the parties decided to set the closing date at the end of June to allow some outstanding details to be resolved.

“Goldcorp wanted to ensure they're going to have all their permits so there will be mining activity that takes place,” said Laughren.

The city also needed to get the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation to sign off on the sale because it had provided millions of dollars over the years towards the development and operation of the two tourist sites.

“Those were all clauses added to facilitate enough time to make this happen so the closing would be at the end of June.”

Under the revised plans for proposed open pit mine, the construction of a noise-, sound- and dust-reducing berm will now extend over the Shania Twain Centre/Underground Mine Tour property, requiring both former attractions be eventually demolished.

http://www.timminspress.com/2013/03/27/shania-centre-sale-awaits-mine-approval



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The Maple Leaf forever

By Ron Grech, The Daily Press (Timmins) | Tuesday, April 16, 2013 7:27 PM EDT

A pedestrian walks by the Maple Leaf Hotel in 2004. Memorabilia from the tavern, including the iconic hotel’s sign, will be added to the collection of the Timmins Museum: National Exhibition Centre.
A pedestrian walks by the Maple Leaf Hotel in 2004. Memorabilia from the tavern, including the iconic hotel’s
sign, will be added to the collection of the Timmins Museum: National Exhibition Centre.

TIMMINS - The stage clothes that were once displayed in the Shania Twain Centre have long since been returned to its original owner.

However, Twain’s outfits were not the only items of local historical or cultural value on display.

Memorabilia from the old Maple Leaf Hotel was put together in a way that gave visitors a sense of what it was like be in that historic tavern. The Maple Leaf was the career launch pad of both Twain and Stompin’ Tom Connors.

City officials assure the memorabilia from the hotel, which was torn down in 2006, will not be lost in the eventual demolition of that centre.

“The museum is taking some of the pieces,” said Karen Bachmann, curator of the Timmins Museum: National Exhibition Centre. “We will definitely be taking that big sign that hung outside of the building, the bar, some of the stools and some of the smaller photographs.

“They will become part of the museum’s collection so they will be available for future exhibitions.”

Bachmann said they have not moved the items out of the centre just yet.

“We are looking at doing that within the next few weeks.”

The Maple Leaf Tavern sign would not be the largest item to become part of the museum collection. In fact, it wouldn’t even be the largest sign.

“We have some quite large older signs from companies that used to operate in Timmins,” said Bachmann.

Some of these pieces, she said, date back to the 1920s.

Aside from the Maple Leaf memorabilia, another item from Twain site that is being retrieved and preserved by the museum is the Hollinger house that is currently located next door to the centre, behind the Underground Gold Mine Tour.

Bachmann said they are still in the “planning stages” of determining how they are going to move the house and where it will be re-established.

While the museum property would seem to be the obvious choice, Bachmann said they have figure out how to do it without eliminating a bunch of parking spaces or leaving the historic building vulnerable to vandals.

More than 300 of the homes were built to house Hollinger Mine employees and their families. The one being discussed by the museum is the last remaining original Hollinger house in Timmins.

All of these items are being moved since the Shania Twain Centre and Underground Gold Mine Tour site closed permanently at the end of January.

The city has agreed to sell the property to Goldcorp Porcupine Gold Mines for $5 million.

The sale’s closing date of June 28 is conditional on Goldcorp receiving its permits to proceed with its Hollinger open pit project.

http://www.timminspress.com/2013/04/16/the-maple-leaf-forever



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