The Shania Twain Centre will NOT be closing. Council voted 5-3 in favor of allowing the STC to move forward with a business plan. The Mayor also voiced his support. I'm happy that this conversation should be over for the next 5 years... at least where council is concerned.http://www.thedailypress.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3179123
Twain Centre gets new life
Council votes to enhance Shania Centre
By Kate McLaren, The Daily Press
Posted 8 hours ago
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."