[Northern Ontario] Mayors get some answers on ONTC – by Gord Young (North Bay Nugget – June 15, 2012)

http://www.nugget.ca/

Bartolucci alleviates concerns, but FONOM will be diligent on divestment

It looks like Rick Bartolucci and the Northern mayors group may have finally found some common ground. The mayors emerged from another meeting this week with the Northern development minister, reporting that some of their concerns regarding the sell off of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission have been alleviated.

Kapuskasing Mayor Alan Spacek, president of the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM), said the group was relieved to hear that there isn’t a deadline for divestment and that the process will “take as long as it takes.”

And although there wasn’t a firm commitment from Bartolucci, Spacek said the mayors also received some level of assurance they will be a part of the process moving forward. “We need to be there at the table,” he said, stressing the importance that Northern stakeholders be involved in the decision-making.

The meeting was the latest in a series of talks between the two sides regarding the province’s plan to divest the ONTC. But unlike past meetings, the mayors are acknowledging that they have received some answers.

Bartolucci, meanwhile, said there remains a target date of March 2013 for the completion of the divestment process. But he confirmed that the province will take as long as it needs.

“If it takes longer, then it’s going to take longer,” he said, disputing that the divestment of the ONTC is a “fire sale” as some have referred to it.

Bartolucci believes that the fire sale term devalues the ONTC assets. He said the province has no doubts about the value of the ONTC and that divestment is about finding a new business model.

“Divestment is not foreclosure,” said Bartolucci, who also pledged to meet regularly with the mayors.

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