Northeastern Ontario mayors say the axing of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission (ONTC) by the Ontario government hurts communities in attracting industry and investment.
In a joint May 2 statement, the mayors say Northerners are tired of being strong-armed by government and the time has come to fight Queen's Park to stop the dismantling of the century-old Crown agency.
“We believe the provincial government has an obligation to assist municipalities with job creation, job retention, business investment and economic growth, not to be an impediment to these goals,” said Cochrane Mayor Peter Politis in a release. His community hosted an “emergency summit” of mayors to map out a strategy to stop the divestment process. The mayors are calling on all communities to join them.
North Bay Mayor Al McDonald is miffed that the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines has instructed the Ontario Northland not to pursue an unfinished VIA Rail coach refurbishment contract worth about $120 million.
“It makes no sense that the government, as the ONTC shareholder, is standing in the way of company success.”
Timmins Mayor Tom Laughren said every attempt to work with the province has been “rebuffed” and it's time to stand up to Queen's Park.
“Allowing them to do this here, to our people, is giving them carte blanche to do it anywhere.”
Kapuskasing Mayor Al Spacek said a “new deal” must be made for the ONTC and Northern mayors insist on being at the table. “Divesting of the ONTC would be like ending the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund, the loss of these investment dollars is a big deal.”