People power helps motivate Metro to reopen a grocery store in the Timmins area

Some people who live in the east end of Timmins are celebrating the reward of their hard work. When their main grocery store closed for good three years ago, a team of community members fought the decision.

In August 2019, Metro closed its grocery store in the mall without much explanation, other than saying there wasn't enough traffic.

Residents in the area weren't buying that.

They phoned Metro demanding answers; they asked Timmins city council to lobby on their behalf; and they collected 4,000 signatures on a petition showing that people wanted their grocery store back.

Company officials told CTV News the collective effort motivated them to decide to put a Food Basics where the Metro was previously located in the mall.

“When you see the passion of the community and the people in the community, it does have an impact and I think they should be applauded for what they did; it was an amazing effort what they did and so it was part of the decision," said Paul Bravi, senior vice-president, Food Basics.

The opening of a new grocery store is important news to people in the South Porcupine and Porcupine area and they thank Metro for listening to them.

“They know how the residents feel about having a grocery store and that was one of the comments that the VP said -- that he recognized the comments from the community," said Theresa Rycaj, a resident of Porcupine.

"So good for the committee that did the hard work and I can’t thank them enough."

Construction of the new store -- a $3 million investment -- is expected to begin in August.

The mayor of Timmins added that all the positive economic developments happening in the area helped seal the deal.

“The fast-tracking of the pre-feasibility study for Kidd Creek, that’s tremendously good news; the continuing good news about Canada Nickel; Galleon Gold of course will be out next (with a) precious metal discovery," said George Pirie.

Bravi said he can't give a specific opening date for the new store due to pandemic conditions, but said he hopes it'll be open in time for Christmas. He added people can expect a store similar to the Food Basics in Timmins.

As an added gesture of goodwill, the company made a recent $2,500 donation to the South Porcupine Food Bank.