Sudbury

Timmins city council says higher speed limits will give it leg up on Sudbury

Timmins city council is asking the province to let drivers go faster on Highways 101 and 144 so that workers at a proposed gold mine might choose to fly into Timmins instead of Sudbury.

Construction of Côté Lake gold mine near Gogama currently on hold

Timmins city council wants drivers to be able to travel faster on Highway 101 west of the city, as well as on Highway 144 south to the Watershed. (Erik White/CBC )

Timmins city council says increasing the speed limit on local highways would be good for the city's economy.

Council is asking the provincial government to raise the speed limit on Highway 101 west of the city from 80 km/h to 90 km/h.

It also wants drivers to be able to travel faster on Highway 144 from the junction at 101 down to the Watershed. 

Mayor George Pirie told council Tuesday night that this idea came up in discussing the Côté Lake gold mine being planned near Gogama, about halfway between Timmins and Sudbury.

Timmins Mayor George Pirie (Erik White/CBC )

Pirie says right now, mining company IAMGOLD is planning to marshal 60 per cent of its workforce out of the Sudbury airport and then have them travel up north to the mine site, with the other 40 per cent coming through Timmins.

He would like to see those numbers flipped. 

"We are competing with Sudbury, so if there is a competitive advantage that we have, it should be an easier trip from our airport down there," Pirie said. 

"If you've ever have taken the road from the Sudbury airport, you then meander through the valley and you get to 144. I mean, it might be the only time in your life you're happy to see Cartier."

A couple of Timmins city councillors voted against the idea, including Noella Rinaldo, who wanted more public consultation with citizens who regularly drive those highways. 

"I don't think safety is a concern at all," Pirie said.

Councillor John Curley agreed.

"I don't think there's anybody sitting around this table travelling that highway going 80 kilometres an hour. They've gone higher than that. Unfortunately, accidents happen on highways whether it's 50 kilometres an hour or not," he said. 

The decision on raising the speed limit rests with the Ministry of Transportation.

Earlier this year, IAMGOLD put construction of the Côté Lake project on hold, due to unfavourable market conditions. 

About the Author

Erik White

journalist

Erik White is a CBC journalist based in Sudbury. He covers a wide range of stories about northern Ontario. Connect with him on Twitter @erikjwhite. Send story ideas to erik.white@cbc.ca

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