THUNDER BAY – POLITICS – Premier Kathleen Wynne says that the road to the mining opportunity of the century is now starting. The Premier was in Thunder Bay this morning to make the announcement.
Premier Wynne says, “A road agreement has been reached. I am grateful to the Matawa First Nations who have been working with us for years to get to this historic day. The entire Ring of Fire region has huge potential for development that would benefit all of the communities involved and the entire province — creating new jobs and improving the quality of life for people in the North. Getting shovels in the ground to build this connection to the Ring of Fire will move us forward towards unlocking its full potential.”
Minister Michael Gravelle echoed his long stated view that “Getting it right” on the Ring of Fire is critical. Bringing all of the communities along with government and industry has been a long hard, and slow process.
The Premier said, “There is lots of work to do”, and addressing the Chiefs at the announcement added, “Your knowledge, perspective and advice has made this agreement stronger.”
Planning the Premier says is underway, and construction is slated to start in 2019.
“Webequie First Nation is collaborating with Nibinamik First Nation through an existing bilateral agreement with a goal of addressing our infrastructure needs that will benefit our people and the region. As proponents, this will allow us to engage with our people and serve them more effectively including respecting other First Nations. The project initiative will further define the routing for a multi-purpose corridor which will accommodate infrastructure projects such as roads, transmission lines, and broadband. Our Land Stewardship and environment protection will be a priority for the people of Webequie First Nation, as it is our inherent right stemming from our three tier land base model to implement benefit relationship agreements with both levels of government. The success of the related project development in the Ring of Fire is dependent on the immediate implementation of the statement of joint commitments developed with the Province to work with the community on various jurisdictional matters,” says Chief Cornelius Wabasse, Webequie First Nation.
“We have been working towards development of the region with Ontario for a few years and are glad to finally have an agreement to connect to the provincial highway. As the historical occupants of the Ring of Fire, we believe that mining development must be both environmentally and economically sustainable and we want to develop infrastructure that enables a multi-generational chromite opportunity. Today’s announcement is a new beginning and we will continue to work with Ontario on the commitment to undertake further study toward developing our vision of a North- South industrial corridor that transverses a majority of Marten Falls territory as part of the long term development of the Ring of Fire. This is a very significant opportunity for Marten Falls, the North-South region and for the Province. We must make the most of it,” says Chief Bruce Achneepineskum, Marten Falls First Nation.
The move will benefit Noront Resources. Company President and CEO Al Coutts states, “Today’s announcement is a major step forward for Noront as we prepare to develop our nickel and chromite deposits in the Ring of Fire. Establishment of a road network with agreement on industrial access is our most important project advancement milestone and we are very pleased to see it move ahead. We look forward to working closely with the province and First Nations communities through the road construction and mine development processes.”
Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown issued a statement following the announcement in Thunder Bay. Brown says, “The Ring of Fire represents an unprecedented economic and jobs opportunity for the North. Unfortunately, since its discovery in 2007 it has not been a priority for the Liberals. They are only in the North now because we’re a year out from an election. Any promise Kathleen Wynne makes on the Ring of Fire today she will break if she wins again.
“The Liberals have promised action on the Ring of Fire time and time again, but they can’t be trusted. They’ve sat on their hands and haven’t gotten anything done. They announced funding for the Ring of Fire for three budgets in a row, but this was just window dressing. And shockingly, in the most recent budget, the Wynne Liberals removed any reference to the Ring of Fire whatsoever. Where’s the funding for today’s announcement coming from? After years of taking the North for granted, now, in an election year they’re pretending to show up and deliver.
“The next election is going to be about who will make it easier for families to make ends meet and get ahead. Only the Ontario PC Party will make Northern Ontario a priority. One of my first actions as Premier would be to take real and tangible action on the Ring of Fire.”