Kenora mayor and NOMA president David Canfield asks a question Thursday morning.
Dilico Christmas Wish CampaignVisit our Dilico Elves - Every Wednesday at Intercity Shopping Centre. Or all our Elf Line 345-3763 to participate call our Elf Line.Click here for details
Some Northwestern Ontario leaders are getting frustrated and impatient over the region's energy and infrastructure needs.
After a speech at the Northwestern Ontario Regional Conference in Thunder Bay Thursday Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle took questions from several municipal leaders. Marathon mayor Rick Dumas said that the province isn't moving fast enough when it comes to the region's mining potential.
"Not moving fast enough is what I think we all feel here in Northwestern Ontario and we just want the government to recognize that," Dumas said.
Through minimal investment in infrastructure and energy transmission the government could see billion of dollars in tax revenue, thousands of jobs created and a chance to get First Nations communities off of diesel generators.
"This has been going on for a long time and the economic opportunities are being missed," Dumas said.
Kenora mayor and Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association David Canfield said the province is missing out on the chance to build the infrastructure while commodities markets are in a downturn so the region can be ready to be mined.
"So many things haven't happened," he said. "We're nowhere close to being ready."
The province is also missing out on economic opportunities it could have even before mining projects go online. There are thousands of megawatts of potential power sources in the region's waterways alone. The province could develop those and use the energy as an export, selling off excess power until its needed for mining projects in the future.
"We have dawdled too long on the whole energy issue and creating these opportunities," he said.
Gravelle said he understands that municipal leaders are frustrated and the province wants the region to develop just like everyone else.
"We would all like to see that happen but what I think I tried to emphasize as much as possible was this project does need to be done right or else the project won't happen," he said.
Revenue sharing, infrastructure and energy are discussed all the time with the province, First Nations and industry but nothing is finalized. That doesn't mean things aren't happening Gravelle said.
"There are some very important and significant conversations that are going on that are difficult to talk about until we get to certain point where they can be publicly discussed," he said.
Canfield thinks the real problem is Ontario's bureaucracy, which makes it difficult for projects to get done.
I think the new premier (Kathleen Wynne) understands that," he said. "We've built such a bureaucratic empire in Ontario that we're going to have to tear it down or streamline it."
Click here to submit a letter to the editor.