SUDBURY – The Northern Ontario Large Urban Mayors and Chief Administrative Officers met this week in Greater Sudbury for the first time since the 2010 election. Of top priority during this meeting was the Northern Ontario Growth Plan, its challenges, opportunities, and imminent implementation. The Mayors also agreed to the critical importance for them to work together and speak with one voice while accepting the reality that each will advocate strongly for each of their communities.
The Mayors of all five cities continue to support the Province’s recognition of the importance of economic development in Northern Ontario and the unique challenges faced in achieving this.
Marshalling the wide range of resources of the Province to develop and implement a plan to achieve sustained and sustainable growth in the north is key to the success of this initiative. However, we remain optimistic that the Growth Plan will provide an economic strategy to guide current and future development needs.
There is a need to recognize that cities are central to the long-term success of growing Northern Ontario. The five large urban municipalities need to be recognized as growth centres and as important partners in implementing the Growth Plan for all of Northern Ontario. Our five cities are home to more than half of the population in Northern Ontario. The foundational role of our municipalities must be recognized and strengthened as the Plan moves towards implementation.
As we look forward to the release of the final version of the Growth Plan, we hope to see a document which will grow the population, economy and assessment base in Northern Ontario.
Equally important will be the provision of sustainable funding to support the Plan; indeed, the Plan’s success can only be achieved with new funding dollars for infrastructure and labour force development that will assist our communities in working towards sustainable economic development We continue to support in principle the aims of the Northern Ontario Growth Plan, but remain increasingly concerned with delays in the Plan’s implementation. As such, the Mayors of Timmins, Sault Ste. Marie, Greater Sudbury, North Bay and Thunder Bay have expressed a desire to meet in the very near future with Ministers Gravelle and Chiarelli. At that time, we will reiterate, as we have done here, the need for a Plan that we can support and rally around.
The Growth Plan project provides an opportunity to strengthen the relationships with northern municipalities and to meaningfully engage the municipal level of government. The strength of Northern Ontario will lie in the collaboration between all parties and partners, including First Nations. It is with this in mind that we have met, to unite for the benefit of all five of our cities, and the betterment of Northern Ontario as a whole.