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Waterfront, Schumacher top list of major, new tourism projects.

Waterfront, Schumacher top list of major, new tourism projects

Now that the underground gold mine tour is back on track, efforts in Timmins are turning to several other major tourism-related potential projects.

"They all complement one another," says Mayor Dennis Welin.

The mayor says the city has the philosophy that everyone must work together to make Timmins more attractive to visitors.

Two of the main proposals for the future are a revitalization of downtown Schumacher and development of the Mattagami River waterfront.

Welin notes that consultants Moore and Associates of Toronto are studying the proposed waterfront development.

Public meetings will be held over the summer for the idea.

Welin says the meetings will look at all aspects of the development, including tourism and use by local residents.

"We're looking at this waterway as an untapped resource," he says.

Although the mayor says it is premature to say what the development may eventually involve, the consultants will be looking at such things as a marina, restaurants and boat tours.

Jean-Paul Aube, chairman of the Timmins Economic Development Corporation, notes the study includes business people with a vested interest in the project.

Karen Guillemette, co-ordinator of the Timmins Convention and Visitors Bureau, believes the waterfront development would be very important for tourism.

She notes that there are currently no walking trails, no business opportunities and no public marinas on the waterfront.

The waterfront could also be used as a basis on which to promote winter tourism with ice fishing and snowmobile trails.

The Schumacher revitalization is also currently in the study phase, and a task force has been put in place to the develop ideas.

Aube says public discussions will take place over the summer.

Government funding has yet to be arranged for either project. However, it is possible that the Schumacher revitalization will begin in a small way before the end of the year, Aube says.

Once the public is shown the potential of the project by visual changes to store fronts and parks, businesses will be encouraged to renovate their buildings to tie into the theme, which is the mining community of the 1930s.

Preliminary cost estimates for the revitalization are between $3 million and $4 million, not including improvements to streets which would be included in the city budget.

Aube says the revitalization will deal with a section of the community that has been neglected over the years.

The project will be aimed at a three-block area which will be developed with boutiques, specialized restaurants and parking facilities.

"We want to make it a tourist-type of centre, but also a useful centre for people living in the Timmins area," says Aube.

Part of the revitalization will be the painting of murals on buildings, an idea explained to city council last year by a British Columbia consultant. The idea has been successfully used by a small B.C. community to promote tourism.

The revitalization will be tied into the moving of the highway, which now runs through downtown Schumacher, to the abandoned railway right-of-way around the business area.

The revitalization project was suggested in an economic report two years ago. It will be guided by a steering committee of 10 to 12 people who have direct interest in the project.

"We try to make sure the doers are involved," says Aube.

Guillemette notes that the current business sector on First Avenue would probably become residential after the highway move, unless something is done.

The 1930s theme will include cobble stone sidewalks, murals and lamps, she says. "It's all tying in with the idea of more tourists coming up to this area and encouraging them to stay a little bit longer."

Other smaller proposals are also being considered to promote tourism.

Preliminary discussions have been held with the Porcupine Railroad Association, which is looking into developing a site near the underground gold mine tour.

The project would involve real trains on railway tracks.

A steering committee is also working on the proposed Prospectors and Developers Hall of Fame.

A feasibility study has already been funded by the provincial government.

Aube says details of the hall of fame have yet to be determined, including the site, the size of the building and potential exhibitions.

"There's a lot of work that has to be done," he says.

However, he notes that, at the moment, the hall of fame is on the backburner while efforts are being concentrated on re-establishing the gold mine tour and attracting the Pinch Mineral Collection to the City.

Guillemette says the first phase of the hall of fame project involved a survey of major mining companies in Canada to determine support for the idea, along with a market survey and the gathering of other information.

"The entire gold mine tour committee would like to see a hall of fame," she says.

Guillemette notes discussions have also been held with the Mining Hall of Fame in Toronto to see if there is potential for cooperation.

However, the Toronto organizers are looking at a portable hall of fame, while Timmins is considering a permanent site.

"It's still up in the air," says Guillemette.

"I think the general public has just realized the importance of tourism," Guillemette says.

She notes that a tourist spends an average of $150 per day in the city, for hotel accomodation and meals.
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Title Annotation:Timmins Report
Author:Bickford, Paul
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Aug 1, 1990
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