Cochrane mayor says residents to decide on habitat
TIMMINS – The town of Cochrane is thinking of closing up their Polar Bear Habitat.
The habitat is near and dear to the hearts of many from all around the north and even internationally, but the town's mayor says it is no longer feasible.
"We're certainly well aware that staff will be affected and most of those staff people are our neighbours, and we've known them for many years and again… it's a decision that has to be done not from the heart but from the financial part of things," says Denis Clement, Cochrane Mayor.
Hey says that 5% of every person's tax bill goes to keeping the habitat going, and it costs anywhere from $300,000 to $440,000 a year.
He says council needs to know how taxpayers feel about this.
A public meeting will take place November 18.
"I hope people come out in droves for or against. It's all good. In the name of transparency for our council which is extremely important," expressed Clement.
People across the north say they'd be sorry to see it closed.
"I'm from Kapuskasing and we went there a few times in my childhood and it was an amazing experience, and they even have the place behind it with all the houses so I think it would be unfortunate for the communities around it not just for Cochrane… it was a beautiful attraction for us," explained one resident.
The habitat has become less of a tourist attraction and more of a research facility lately, studying polar bears and the effects of climate change on them.
Mayor Clement says he hope the provincial or federal government might value that enough to step up with some funding to keep it open.