The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.
Municipal leaders in Northern Ontario seek a better deal when it comes to sharing the tax revenues generated by the mining industry.
A delegation from the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) met with Minister of Northern Development and Mines Rick Bartolucci recently. FONOM representatives also met with Yasir Naqvi, parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Finance to discuss key Northern issues at the Ontario Good Roads/Rural Ontario Municipal Association Conference held in Toronto.
FONOM president Al Spacek, mayor of Kapuskasing, and vice-president Tom Laughren, mayor of Timmins, made a presentation on mining revenue sharing.
“We heard the minister saying that it is this government’s priority to keep the province a prime place for mining companies to explore and have a very favourable investment climate,” Spacek said. “He’s willing to work with us, so we will continue to work on this with our municipal counterparts in the Northwest, the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association, as well as First Nations’ organizations.
“We all want to share in the prosperity generated in the North from our mining riches.”
Revenue sharing has been a sore point with municipalities in Northeastern Ontario. During a fall meeting of the Northeastern Ontario Municipal Association, Timmins Coun. Michael Doody was one of many NEOMA politicians to speak emotionally about the topic.
“In the last five years, federal taxes in resource industries are up 100%,” said Doody, a longtime political voice and past mayor of Timmins. “Provincial taxes are up 60%. But municipalities are down 8%.
“We don’t want more taxation, just our fair share.”
Spacek said that Bartolucci “indicated that the slurry trucks that beat up roadways within municipalities may be something for which the government would consider finding ways to compensate.”
Northern leaders are prepared to keep pushing the issue.
Laughren said, “Mining revenue sharing needs work over time, and when the deficit is under control, this matter will need to be re-introduced.”
Bartolucci provided a quick overview to FONOM and indicated that the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund is available to advise on funding opportunities and has more than $100,000,000 to invest in the North.
There was also a brief discussion on Northern industrial Energy and the need for improved transmission and generation infrastructure.
Spacek said, “We were pleased to hear the minister confirm that the province is committed to maintaining the reduced Northern Ontario Industrial Energy Rates. We are encouraged that this government will be following through with their promise on Northern Industrial Electricity rates. That gives our mining and forestry industries a fighting chance against Manitoba and Quebec.”