Published on: 2/21/2014 9:30:51 AM Print | Font Sizes:  Normal Text Large Text

Northern chambers want action on Ring of Fire

By: Northern Ontario Business staff

An Ontario Chamber of Commerce report asking for progress to be made on the Ring of Fire is being endorsed by its Northern counterparts.

The report, Beneath the Surface: Uncovering the Economic Potential of Ontario’s Ring of Fire, said minerals in the James Bay lowlands can generate up to $9.4 billion in new economic activity over the first 10 years of operation and sustain 5,500 jobs annually.

The spinoff effects could generate $25 billion across many sectors in Ontario by 2047, including billions for the financial services sector and $1.2 billion for the wholesale and retail industry.

“Although this would mean great things for the North, it’s difficult to overstate the massive economic impact that the Ring of Fire could have for all Ontarians,” said Phil Barton, president of the Timmins Chamber of Commerce. “Many people tend to think of the project as something that will specifically benefit just one region or another, but this study shows that this just isn’t true. The Ring of Fire is truly a once-in-a-generation economic opportunity for the province and indeed the country.”

The study shows it will generate significant revenue for government to the tune of $1.95 billion within the first 10 years of development.

“We must work to ensure that the resources in the Ring of Fire are fully utilized to create jobs and economic growth in Thunder Bay and across the northwest,” says Thunder Bay chamber president Charla Robinson. “With appropriate planning and investment, this development can drive the Ontario economy for decades to come.”

“Our study makes it clear that the short- and long-term economic impacts of the Ring of Fire extend far beyond mining,” says Allan O’Dette, Ontario chamber president. “It’s time to broaden the Ring of Fire conversation to include all of Ontario, not just the Far North.”

There remain several major obstacles for development. The report’s authors are calling on the provincial and federal governments to design and fund a plan to address inadequate transportation infrastructure in the region, which is cited as a significant barrier.

“There is a strong business case for governments to invest in this economic opportunity,” said O’Dette. “The federal government, in particular, needs to play a more active role in this development, as it has for other transformative projects including the oil sands, the St. Lawrence Seaway, and Churchill Falls.”

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