TIMMINS – CTV News has learned not much notice was given to the Polar Bear Habitat in Cochrane about plans to close the facility.

It came as a surprise, only one hour before news releases were sent out to the media.

Officials with the Polar Bear Habitat's Board of Directors say they've been working for the past two years on a strategic plan for the centre, and they want a chance to complete the assignment which has included the town's input.

"This is such an important decision that we need to stand back and take a deep breath and really think through how we can come up with a short term plan that essentially gets the polar bear habitat on track and a long term plan that ensures it's going to be sustainable over the long term," says JP Bradette, Polar Bear Habitat Board Chair.

In a press release, Bradette further commented that "the Board has been aggressively exploring funding options to put the Polar Bear Habitat on track and a longer term plan that ensures it's going to be sustainable into the future so we can continue to provide a sanctuary for polar bears that can no longer live in the wild and help researchers around the globe with their work to save polar bears in the wild."

Timmins-James Bay MP Charlie Angus also thinks Cochrane is making a rash decision.

"It just doesn't make sense to walk away now so suddenly without giving it the opportunity… it really does deserve to be that world-class facility which we in the North, we can all be proud of. This is not just the town of Cochrane, this is all of us together saying let's build a facility that we can show the world, that we can lead the way on research on climate change," says Angus.

He further underlines the importance of finding a way forward, stating that "the Polar Bear Habitat is a crucial centre for the North... it is also a vital regional tourist centre. We need to build on a regional tourism strategy particularly with the huge potential for tourism on James Bay. The Board has shared some of their plans with me and I am excited about the Habitat's future."

The Mayor of Cochrane says it's not economically feasible anymore to operate the habitat and that it costs more than $300,000 a year to keep it going.

The Board of Directors of the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat is inviting the public to an open meeting on November 17 to share additional details on their short and long-term solutions to make the Habitat financially viable.

The meeting is set to take place from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Club Amical 50 Plus, located at 158, 4th avenue in Cochrane.