The Far North Act – Vic Fedeli MPP


Vic Fedeli MPPQUEEN’S PARK – Leader’s Ledger – It’s been a little over a year since Bill 191, or the Far North Act, became law in the province of Ontario. But its implications as it relates to economic development in Northern Ontario – or the lack thereof – could be felt for generations. And that’s why we as opposition members will push to repeal this legislation at the earliest opportunity. Let me tell you why it needs to be overturned.

First, it puts 225, 000 square kilometres of northern wilderness off limits to future development. What’s wrong with that you may ask? It’s the way in which it was decided. Bureaucrats in Toronto basically determined which areas would become protected and no longer available for exploration with little or no consultation of northern or First Nations residents. Indeed, if this law had been in place a few years earlier, the massive Ring of Fire chromite deposit in Northern Ontario would never have been discovered. It’s estimated there is at least 50 years of chromite, used in stainless steel, to be mined in this area west of James Bay.

This development is needed in Northern Ontario. Our First Nations communities could greatly benefit from the wealth generated by successful future exploration. Moreover, North Bay and Nipissing could also reap tremendous economic activity. We have over 70 mining and forestry companies in the area that could see spin-off business. North Bay has three of the largest mining exploration companies in the world and is the global headquarters for two (Redpath and Cementation). But it goes further than that.

When I toured the Ring of Fire this past summer, the first thing I saw as I flew over the site was a series of tents made by Canadian Can-Tex out of Rutherglen. When I stepped off the helicopter, I immediately spotted drill rods – the same kind made by companies in North Bay and Powassan. Already the tremendous possibilities for local businesses are taking shape.

However, the kind of random, remote planning that went into Bill 191 is limiting other potential discoveries and has to stop. The question has to be asked and answered – what are we NOT discovering this week, this month, or this year — all because of the Far North Act?

Vic Fedeli
MPP, Nipissing

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