THUNDER BAY -- The local chamber of commerce president wants the federal government to take the Ring of Fire seriously.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce along with seven other chambers across the province, including Thunder Bay, have written a letter to Minister of Natural Resources and FedNor Greg Rickford, who also represents the Kenora riding as a Member of Parliament.
The letter is asking for the federal government to match the province’s commitment of $1 billion in funding for infrastructure in the Ring of Fire.
An Ontario chamber report released in February outlined $9 billion in potential economic activity over 10 years through the Ring of Fire and 5,500 jobs per year.
“We feel that’s a significant part of the Ontario economy,” said Charla Robinson, president of the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce.
“This isn’t just a northern issue,” she said. “We need the government at both levels to take it seriously.”
The chambers also don’t want to see the $1 billion come from the Building Canada Fund.
Robinson said there is a small pie available for that fund for the entire province and taking $1 billion from it would significantly impact other valuable projects.
“This is really a nationally significant project. It needs to be considered in that way when it comes to funding. It shouldn’t just be taken out of a regular infrastructure fund,” she said.
The letter, dated June 25, does recognize $5.9 million in funding from the federal government for the Ring of Fire Aboriginal Training Alliance and other contributions to the Northern Ontario Development Program and the Community Futures Program.
Robinson said they have yet to hear back from the minister, but it’s still early.
The chambers also plan to follow up with the minister; Robinson said in order to move the project forward, decisions need to be made more swiftly.