Michael Gravelle, minister of Northern Development and Mines, says his government wants to work closely with municipalities.
Need Xtra Cash? Visit Xtra Cash!For payday advances and cheque cashing, there's no better option than XTRA CASH! Best rates, no holds, and instant Cash!Click here for full list of services
Northern communities have taken a team approach to lobbying the province.
“It was very important that we spoke with one voice and explain to the government that we have the same issues and we work together,” said acting mayor Joe Virdiramo.
“You have to bring (these priorities) up over and over again until we get government results. We’ve been lucky in the past. We have had some success and we’re looking forward to having more.”
Officials with the Northern Ontario Large Urban Mayors arranged to meet several provincial ministers at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario in Ottawa Wednesday. The mayors wanted to present the ministers and other government officials with the main priorities for the North.
The group narrowed the region’s issues to several key points:
Research and innovation
“The government understood and we’re looking forward to more conversations,” he said while waiting in the Ottawa airport.
Virdiramo said the government realizes that Northern Ontario is an up and coming region will be the economic future of the province.
The time for the province to commit is when municipalities are applying for funding, he said.
Michael Gravelle, minister of Northern Development and Mines, said Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne reaffirmed to all the northern municipalities that the North is a priority.
“We intend to work closely with municipal leaders,” he said.
“To be fair, they were not expecting commitments. They put forward a number of documents and all of them came with presentations. They know that infrastructure is a huge need for municipalities across the province. There is a recognition that there is an infrastructure deficit. We’re going to work towards that.”
Gravelle mentioned the $100 million fund that’s being rolled out by the province that’s dedicated to Northern and rural communities. It’s not clear if larger municipalities will be able to access that fund but Gravelle said that nothing is set in stone.
He said he and the municipalities are on the same page.
“The federal government itself has committed to spending $6 billion for infrastructure across the entire country,” he said. “We certainly hold our heads up high in terms to our commitment to infrastructure. We also recognize that the needs are great.”
Gravelle added that they are committed to energy needs in the region and energy minister Bob Chiarelli is taking in all suggestions regarding keeping the Thunder Bay Generating Station open.
Click here to submit a letter to the editor.