OTTAWA – AMO Meeting – “The economic development opportunities in Northern Ontario today will have a significant benefit to the entire province for decades to come,” stated Councillor Joe Virdiramo, the Westfort Councillor is serving as Acting Mayor of Thunder Bay at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario meetings in Ottawa.
The Northern Ontario Large Urban Mayors (NOLUM) met today with seven Provincial Ministers and other senior government officials to present them with the Northern Priorities document, which aims to assist the government in linking municipalities with the Northern Growth Plan.
“We had an excellent meeting with our provincial representatives. It was great follow-up to the Premier’s message yesterday, which was about working closer with municpalities. They heard our message that we are speaking as one voice for all Northerners. I look forward to the next steps in achieving our goals,” said Timmins Mayor Tom Laughren.
At the meeting, NOLUM presented its Northern Priorities document, with the aim of highlighting the need for a renewed and more strategic relationship between the Province and the five largest Northern Ontario centres. The document outlines NOLUM’s views on priorities for the North, and how the Province can work with municipalities to create stronger linkages and focus in on specific, agreed upon actions.
“I am very pleased with the meeting and discussions that were held with the ministers,” said Greater Sudbury Mayor Marianne Matichuk. “Northern Ontario is positioned for growth and prosperity, which ultimately will benefit the Province. Working together provides an opportunity for future sustainability for all partners.”
“I am pleased with today’s meeting. It is extremely important that as Northern Mayors we continue to be united on common issues that are important to Northern Ontario,” said North Bay Mayor Al McDonald. “The North has unlimited potential, and by speaking with one voice Northern Ontario will be in a better position to compete on the global stage.”
As a group, the five largest centres have identified six key priority areas for focus by the Province of Ontario. These priorities are:
• Working Relationships: a renewed collaborative relationship built on consultation, direct engagement and strategic thinking, and clear and coherent support across all Provincial ministries
• Infrastructure: sustainable funding for local and regional infrastructure, and advancement of multi-modal study for Northern Ontario
• Energy: affordable electricityl pricing for all users, and the need for a strong provincial committment to generating facilities and energy projects in Northern Ontario
• Workforce development: enhancement of programming for immigration, and skills development activities focused on key sectors
• Research and innovation: enhanced funding for research and innovation activities, and increased collaboration with key stakeholders
• Revenue sharing: fair sharing of resource revenue, and long-term stable funding sources.
The Priorities document was developed because the potential for economic growth in Northern Ontario is both significant and immediate, making this a propitious time to align provincial and municipal efforts to develop the region. As well, a number of changes to the policy and funding environments are being contemplated with the potential for significant impacts on the five largest centres, and those five municipalities are facing increasing pressures arising from the need to reinvest in their local infrastructure.
“I am encouraged by today’s meeting with the Ministers, and look forward to working with the province and the other Northern cities to make the Northern Growth Plan a priority,” said Mayor Debbie Amaroso from Sault Ste. Marie.
NOLUM is represented by Mayors Marianne Matichuk of Greater Sudbury, Al McDonald of North Bay, Debbie Amaroso of Sault Ste. Marie, Tom Laughren of Timmins and Keith Hobbs of Thunder Bay.