Date published: Friday, April 10, 2015
The Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) participated in Ontario’s first ever State of the North Summit hosted by The Empire Club of Canada on April 2, 2015 in Toronto.
The event, which consisted of expert panelists representing industry, municipal and First Nation governments from across the north, took the stage to raise awareness of the opportunities in Northern Ontario and the barriers to achievement. The audience of over 200 people included the Bay Street financial community, Queen’s Park officials, and the Minister of Northern Development and Mines, Michael Gravelle.
On the panel with Al Spacek, FONOM President and Mayor of Kapuskasing were; Dave Canfield, Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association (NOMA) President and Mayor of Kenora; Lawrence Martin, Mushkegowuk Council Grand Chief; Jamie Lim, Ontario Forest Industries Association (OFIA) President and CEO; Gerald Panneton, founder and former CEO of Detour; and Joelle Faulkner, AreaOne Farms President.
“For the province to truly take advantage of the significant natural resources and skilled workforce in the North, two things have to happen. First, Northerners need to be much more involved in any decision-making. And, two, the decision-makers in Southern Ontario need a new and better perspective of the opportunities that are here,” said Spacek.
The panelists offered a number of suggestions, including the creation of a single point of contact for Northern Ontario within the government to lead projects through the approval and permitting processes. The panelists were in agreement that environmental sensitivities needed to be balanced with economic opportunities. Mayor Canfield called for decisions to be based on science rather than ideology.
“The event provided an excellent forum to discuss the opportunities in Northern Ontario that the whole province could benefit from,” said Spacek. “We came to Toronto to deliver that message, and we succeeded.”
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Mayor Alan Spacek,
President of FONOM