THUNDER BAY – UPDATED – “The Government’s soaring rhetoric on economic zones, public policy institutes and the Northern Growth Plan does not measure up to their actions. What could be more important to Northern Ontario’s growth, to our ‘economic zones’ or as a public policy review, than one about the future of the forest industry in Northern Ontario? Despite the expressed concerns of northern Ontario communities and businesses, the Government is going ahead with legislation that could have dire consequences to our economy without coming to Northern Ontario to discuss it,” charges Harold Wilson, President of the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce.
The Chamber of Commerce has entered the debate over a McGuinty Government decision not to host meetings in Northern Ontario over changes to Bill 115. “Following requests to the Chair and Committee Members of the Standing Committee on General Government that a Hearing on Bill 151 (Forest Tenure Reform) be held in Thunder Bay prior to 3rd reading in the Legislature, we have learned that Toronto will be the only place for two hearings next week, April 11 and 13,” commented Wilson.
“The plan to limit hearings to Toronto is unacceptable. We have still not received any response from the Committee, nor from our own local MPP’s regarding this critical piece of legislation and the decision to limit discussion,” stated Wilson.
“It is important to know that when this bill goes to committee it will be open for public hearings in which the forest industry, community leaders, and stakeholders are invited to provide input either in person or through video conferencing,” states Michael Gravelle, the Minister of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry.
“In August 2009, I announced the beginning of a comprehensive review aimed at modernizing Ontario Forest Tenure and Pricing System, and since then MNDMF has held consultation sessions on forest tenure reform throughout Ontario: Beardmore, Bower, Cochrane, Chapleau – Fox Lake Reserve, Constance Lake FN, Dryden, Fort Frances, Hearst, Hornepayne, Huntsville, Gogama, Kapuskasing, MacDiarmid, Marathon, Midland, Parry Sound, Nipigon, North Bay, Pembroke, Sault Ste Marie, Sioux Lookout, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Timmins , Toronto and White River,” added Minister Gravelle.
Earlier today the Ontario Forest Industry Association issued a statement condemning this decision.
Minister of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry Michael Gravelle participating in an announcement on wood tenure earlier today, stated, “As Ontario’s economy is turning the corner, we are putting people and wood to work in Ontario through the wood supply offers. This is part of the job creation and economic development plan for the North.”
Gravelle’s comments come as two companies have come to wood agreements with the province.
Wawasum Corporation near Greenstone will use the wood to produce clean-burning wood pellets for energy production. The construction of the pellet plant is a joint project of the Bingwi Neyaashi Anishinaabek and Animbiigoo Zaagi’igan Anishinaabek First Nations, and is expected to be completed within two years and create 20 new jobs.