Ring of Fire Statement – by the Hon. Michael Gravelle, Minister of Northern Development and Mines (November 8, 2013)

(L to R) Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Michael Gravelle, Minister of Northern Development and Mines at the PDAC Convention, March, 2013. (Photo by Stan Sudol)

Friday November 8th, 2013

The Ring of Fire is a tremendous opportunity, with incredible potential to unlock economic potential within the region, create thousands of jobs and significantly strengthen our economy for years to come. There is no question that this is a very complex undertaking, particularly when one acknowledges that this is a major resource development project in a remote part of the province that has never seen development before. That is why it’s so important that we lay the necessary groundwork now. And that work is underway;

– A historic regional process with Chiefs of the Matawa Tribal Council, led by former Justice Iacobucci and Bob Rae;
– Capacity building, to ensure people have the training and skills required to take advantage of the benefits developing the region will bring;
– Community readiness initiatives, to support communities as they become vital transportation hubs and new centres for the mining services and supply sector, a sector sure to see incredible growth; and
– Certainly our work with interested companies continues to show progress.

However, recent developments, and divergent private sector interests, have impacted our ability to move forward on vital infrastructure required to develop the region. We need to get people in to work and goods out to the global market. Currently there are a variety of proposals for infrastructure development. They propose different corridors and different modes of transportation, but in the end, they all lead to the same place. In recent weeks, it has become increasingly clear to me, that we need to determine exactly what those infrastructure needs are, and we need to do it now. What will serve development of the region best, what will serve the people of Ontario best.

That is why, today, our government is announcing we will take action to ensure strategic infrastructure development for the region can and will move forward with the creation of a development corporation. The creation of a development corporation will bring First Nations, mining companies, and provincial and federal partners together to settle divergent interests and get back to making this development happen. They will determine infrastructure needs and financing to support infrastructure development. We will reach out to our partners immediately to ensure work starts today. This project is, simply put, too important.

My intention is, and always has been, to drive this project forward. I am pleased that today our government is taking action to do just that. We are going to invest in this vital piece of infrastructure. But we really need the federal government to join us. This is a truly significant piece of infrastructure that will drive tremendous economic opportunity for the people of Northern Ontario and, indeed, the whole province. Various federal ministers of the Crown have been telling us they are committed to working with us, and that they will make the necessary investments to support Northern Ontario, and make this project a reality. Well, the time has come for the federal government to step up.

They’ve done it in Alberta with the oil sands, in Newfoundland with a $6 billion dollar hydro-electric project and elsewhere like B.C. They need to place the same amount of significance in northern Ontario as the Wynne government does, as we all here do. We are an economic force, a leader in the country and their support for our province should be no different than what we have seen for development in other provinces. That is my expectation as Minister of Northern Development and Mines. I believe it is yours as well. Our government’s commitment is clear. We want to get it right. And we want to get it done. Thank you.

 

 

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