Timmins business owner wants to repurpose mining landmark
TIMMINS -- Alex Gagnon has a dream of having thrill-seekers be able to scale the old Hollinger headframe in Timmins, and city officials suggest it may become a reality next year.
It is part of a grander "mining experience" Gagnon has been working on with the property’s owner, local physician Antonio Kos, for around 10 months.
Currently running several activities through his business, Gagnon says in addition to getting the community active, this would be a chance to draw attention to a piece of the city’s history.
"It’s going to be able to get people interested in mining, and really glorify what a lot of people just kind of bypass in their minds every day if you’re not a miner yourself," says Gagnon.
His master plan is to incorporate the headframe and the main building in a tour of the historic mine, with an “escape room” experience throughout.
Gagnon’s climbing concept is derived from a rock-climbing method that he’s only seen used on a building in Germany.
The headframe stands 120 feet above the city and was part of the Hollinger Gold Mine, which operated from 1910 to 1968. The property’s been relatively unused since that time, and Gagnon feels it only needs some internal and external retouching in order to be used again.
If it goes ahead, Gagnon says he plans to preserve the original look of the building.
"To actually have the entire headframe, the inside of the mine, everything with the old systems inside," Gagnon said. "Nobody’s going to have experienced mining this way."
To make this happen, Gagnon says there’s paperwork to do, since the property is still technically a mining site. It needs to be re-zoned as a recreational space before it can operate.
Gagnon says initial consultations with the city have shown a positive reaction to the idea, and with the city’s plans to expand the Hollinger area as a recreational destination, he doesn’t expect much pushback.
Timmins city councillor Noella Rinaldo says repurposing the historic site would be a creative way to draw attention and tourism to the city.
"This is a great use of an amazing looking building because he’s going to be using the industrial feel of it and using it to his advantage," said Rinaldo. "I think that’s quite unique and I hope it does go ahead and becomes very successful."
Gagnon also addressed the fact that the building stands just beside the still-operating Hollinger Open Pit mine, which does blasting at certain times throughout the day.
He says he would have to coordinate with the mining firm, Newmont, to make sure to schedule operations of the new attraction outside of blasting hours.
Gagnon received a $3,000 grant from the Ontario Tourism Innovation Lab’s Spark Program in Nov. 2019 to use toward his idea.