Getting Ring of Fire Moving or Getting it Right?
THUNDER BAY – Frustration over the speed of the Ring of Fire was evident at the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association meetings in Thunder Bay on Friday. Delegates at the meeting expressed their concerns that officials at the municipal level were not being let into the room.
Minister Gravelle had faced a bear-pit style series of questions on Thursday. The market conditions are impacting mining, and the Minister of Northern Development and Mines along with Premier Kathleen Wynne have expressed that getting the Ring of Fire right is critical.
ELA Commentary by NOMA President
Minister Rickford, while he was being introduced by Kenora Mayor Dave Canfield who serves as NOMA President appeared very pleased when Canfield expressed how much work the Kenora MP had put in behind the scenes to make sure that the Environmental Lakes Area was saved. Rickford and the federal government’s contributions were left off the agreed on press statement issued by Ontario when Premier Wynne was in Kenora earlier in September.
Canfield shared with the NOMA delegates how he knew how much work was put in by Minister Rickford to save the ELA, and how the frustration when other governments in effect ignore that effort is something that the federal government basically has to deal with.
Rickford, in his luncheon speech spoke about the importance of putting partisan politics aside. “I have a good relationship with Minister Gravelle,” stated Rickford.
Ring of Fire
The Ring of Fire has faced several serious challenges. Some of those challenges have come from what could now be called over-ambitious statements by some of the politicians in the area. Claims at one point of up to 50,000 new jobs have now been scaled back to 5000 jobs.
Minister Rickford spoke of the importance of being tasked with the responsibility for the Ring of Fire. Earlier announcements by the Minister made in Thunder Bay were on supplying funding for Matawa First Nations to help train 260 individuals for careers in mining.
Market conditions, combined with the environmental process, Aboriginal relations, and the relationships with both provincial and federal governments are all going to have to come together for success.
Minister Gravelle and Minister Rickford seem focused on achieving those goals.
Cliffs Natural Resources remains engaged, but has been making strong statements lately. The decision by Ontario on how to access the resources is echoing across the region.
Getting it right will be important. For many in the region getting it done appears increasingly important.