Date published: Wednesday, November 21, 2012
On September 28, 2012, the last Ontario Northland train left Toronto’s Union Station.
In the weeks since, 18 municipalities and townships in Northern Ontario have united to challenge the Province of Ontario’s decision to divest Ontario Northland’s assets.
The municipalities are concerned that: lost jobs, increased transportation costs, and inadequate infrastructure could economically devastate Northern Ontario if the government goes through with their plan.
From Muskoka to Kapuskasing, 18 municipalities have passed identical motions petitioning the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to stop efforts to divest Ontario Northland Transportation Commission (ONTC). The municipalities urge the provincial government to “immediately suspend plans to divest from ONTC and to consult with local municipalities, stakeholders and regional economic development organizations regarding the long-term plans for improving the effectiveness of ONTC as a government asset.” (Resolution no. 2012-469, Municipality of Powassan)
In addition to their unified stand against the divestment of ONTC, council, community organizations and groups impacted by the cuts have made impressive efforts to get more residents involved, through petitioning, emailing MPPs, and actively engaging through social media. These efforts have reached across the province, as light is shed on this decision.
The Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) has spearheaded a grassroots lobbying effort that has driven over 4,000 emails and petition signatures opposing the cuts. Emails are being directed to MPP Bartolucci, Minister of Northern Development and Mines, calling on him to suspend the Province’s divestment in ONTC.
Al Spacek, President of FONOM and Mayor of Kapuskasing, urged the provincial government to take heed.
“The residents of Northern Ontario will no longer stand for the Province’s reckless neglect of their economy and services,” said Mayor Spacek. “The Northern municipalities are organizing, and we will not rest until the government agrees to help to resolve the economic crisis they have forced upon us.”