Town Council Seeks to Close Polar Bear Habitat. Decision Dependent on Public Input

Increased operating costs, need for more capital investment, and declining revenues require Town leadership to consider all options for the attraction.

COCHRANE, ONTARIO, November 6, 2019 — Cochrane’s Town Council wants to hear from the public before a final decision on the future of the town’s internationally recognized Polar Bear Habitat. Originally conceived as a revenue-generating tourist attraction to take advantage of tourist travelling to Moosonee on the Polar Bear Express, the costs of the operating the facility have continued to rise. Revenues have not increased to match the pace of these costs and the facility requires significant capital investment. Town Council is concerned about the ability of our taxpayers to continue to fund the needs of the Habitat.

“We need to hear from our residents,” said Denis Clement, Mayor, Town of Cochrane. “It’s their burden as taxpayers that Council is concerned about. Of equal concern is the bears themselves. Whatever decision we make must ensure their continued health and welfare.”

Town Council will host a public open house meeting at the Events Centre the week of November 18th, 2019. At that time, the past, present, and future options for the facility will be reviewed and discussed. This open house would present the history of the facility, the current situation and the financial implications of operating the facility in the future. Scheduling of the event will be announced shortly.

The Town of Cochrane’s contribution to the annual costs of operating the facility is from $300,000 a year to a high in 2017 of $444,000.

Clement said, “Since its inception, employees of the Habitat have been paid less that other Town of Cochrane employees doing similar jobs. This is not sustainable, neither for the dedicated employees of the Habitat nor the Town. Changing this, however, will have a significant impact on operating costs.”

The results of the Open House will be discussed at the first council meeting in December. There, a final decision will be made to either collect and invest the funds required to operate the facility in the future, or to close the facility permanently; repatriating the bears back to their respective owners.


For further information, contact:

Darren Ottaway, CAO
Corporation of the Town of Cochrane
(705) 272-4361 ext. 230