Camp life persists for N. Ont. miners
'Boom town' in northeastern Ontario wonders about housing for influx of workers
A northern Ontario village near a huge new open pit gold mine says it isn't ready to be a boom town.
IAMGOLD Corporation is aiming to employ hundreds of people in the coming years at its Coté mine, not far from Gogama, located just 5 km off Hwy 144.
But even though the mine is just a few minutes’ drive away, the company is expecting most workers to come from Sudbury and Timmins and stay in trailers on site.
A spokesperson from the Gogama Local Services Board said most of the town's 300 people aren't too disappointed about that.
"We can't take care of 1,200 people [who] would want to live here," Gerry Talbot said. "It's not realistic. So, the camp style, that's part of life in the mining industry."
But Talbot said Gogama is hoping to create new housing lots in town, with the hope some miners will move in. Gogama is also lobbying for IAMGOLD to set-up its office there — something Timmins is pushing for as well.
Residents remain hopeful
One life-long Gogama resident said she hopes some miners will move to her hometown of about 300 people, but isn't counting on it.
"I would love them to move into town, but I don't think it will happen," said Jeannette Duguay, who sees the odd customer from the Iamgold camp come into her general store to buy junk food and beer. "There's no growth. Where are they going to live?"
The lack of housing is one reason IAMGOLD is setting up a residential camp normally associated with remote mines in the far north.
Nevertheless, Duguay — and others in Gogama — are hoping for maybe just a few new neighbours, and perhaps new businesses in town too.
The village of Matachewan, about an hour west of Kirkland Lake, has been expecting a jump in its population of 500, thanks to another new gold mine.
Even though the gold mine is right in Matachewan, it also has trailers, where dozens of workers live on site.
Reeve Beverley Hine said she's struggling to convince developers to build new homes or even get someone to open a new restaurant or motel.
"Basically what they're waiting for is to make sure the mine is going to go," Hine said.
"I think they know that now, so in the next year I think you'll see a big change [in terms of] businesses and houses going up."