As a long-time resident of Timmins, Ont., I felt it necessary to clarify statements made in a letter to the editor entitled Timmins OK With Open-Pit Mine (The Daily News, Jan. 14).
Although Timmins city council voted unanimously on Nov. 12, 2012, to approve Bylaw 2012-7286, the site-plan control agreement with Goldcorp, it was not without opposition. In fact, the public was not even informed of the vote, passed in a first, second, and third reading.
Most upsetting was that the special vote came right after Goldcorp’s advisory committee and Bill Hughes (representative of hundreds of people living closest to the proposed pit) expressed valid concerns that could not be alleviated.
Goldcorp conducted 32 technical studies with 31 of them incorporated into the reports available on its website. Unfortunately, it is apparent that the plan calls for monitoring and reacting as problems arise, rather than preventing adverse effects.
Originally, the plan was for three small pits, with Goldcorp “selling” the project by advising us that there would be minimal profit to the company and that it was more about reclamation, returning unusable land to the City.
In December 2010, it was reported that there would be a 300-metre buffer zone between the mine and residents. Currently, if the project goes forward, some residents will only be 50 metres from the 20- to 30-metre-high berm that has yet to be constructed.
Originally, one of the holes was to become a lake and the rest of the property turned into parkland. Eventually, we were told it would be one large pit that will not fill with water for 10 to 25 years after production ends.
The city will take over the land but uncertainty remains as to its use. For months, Goldcorp told residents that they had hired a consultant to investigate property values. Ultimately, they ended up telling us that too many factors affect real estate and that they would not accept responsibility for any material decline.
Ontario is not yet OK with this open pit. Production has not begun due to outstanding permits, including one for air (noise and dust), submitted by Goldcorp in July 2011 and an appeal to the permit to take water, launched in July 2012.
Subsidence is cause for concern as the original Hollinger mine was comprised of approximately 600 miles of tunnels and underground mapping is unclear.
Approximately 40 sites that are currently monitored twice a year for sinkholes will have to be monitored weekly if blasting begins.
Finally, some residents have questioned whether our health and safety was traded for the potential sale of the
Shania Twain Centre. Goldcorp always told us that the tourist attraction would remain, relocating the road only.
City council announced two weeks ago that Goldcorp was to purchase the money-losing tourist attraction and the deal is expected to be finalized Jan. 21, 2013.
So, for those of us very concerned about the adverse effects to our health through fugitive dust and excessive noise, a decline in property values, and dangerous sinkholes, we have been given a reason why the city approved this dangerous project. It is my hope that Ontario’s Environmental Protection Act will prevail.