FONOM Expresses Concern Over New Forest Tenure Bill

Date published: Wednesday, April 13, 2011
FONOM President Mayor Al Spacek addressed the Standing Committee on General Government in Toronto recently expressing the concerns of its member municipalities over Bill 151 – The Ontario Forest Tenure Modernization Act, 2011. “Some of the major concerns with respect to this legislation are with the seeming arbitrary increases in government authority which allow it the arbitrary discretion to cancel existing wood supply agreements or licenses for any reason,” commented Mayor Spacek. “Furthermore, we are also concerned that there is no recourse for affected parties as this Bill removes existing rights of notice and appeal, and any current options around legal recourse if wood is unfairly taken away.”

Mayor Spacek added, “We believe that Bill 151, if implemented as drafted, would deter investment and employment because of the uncertainty the Bill itself creates. FONOM members fear that the Bill as presented will significantly devalue existing forest product facilities that rely on Crown timber and will discourage capital investment and employment.” Addressing the Committee, Mayor Spacek continued, “I am sure you can agree that this already devastated industry and the communities that rely so heavily on it, cannot bear another three or more years of uncertainty and reduced investor confidence. We need to have Northern Ontario seen in a positive light by industry leaders, investors, shareholders, customers, employees and citizens, as a secure, stable and predictable jurisdiction in which to invest scarce capital and their futures.”

Another significant concern to FONOM members has been the lack of consultation in the North about this legislation and its potential effects on Northern communities. Speaking to this issue, Mayor Spacek said, “Many of our members feel that this legislation is being ‘rammed through’. We think the case has been made for more consultation on this Bill and perhaps more precisely, more meaningful consultation such as holding committee hearings on this Bill in Northern Ontario.” Letters of concern from municipalities in Northeastern Ontario, including the Cities of Timmins and Sault Ste. Marie, and the Towns of Espanola, Cochrane and Thessalon to name a few, have been submitted to the Standing Committee asking for more consultation in the North by this Committee.

Mayor Spacek indicated that he felt his comments were well received by the Committee noting that there are some positive signs that the Government is working with the industry to resolve some issues regarding the Bill’s contents. The Committee hearings will conclude in Toronto on April 13.

FONOM’s membership is made up of 110 municipalities, towns and cities in Northeastern Ontario. FONOM acts in an advocacy role in relation to political and economic issues of concern in Northern Ontario.

For more information, contact: Al Spacek, President, Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities Tel: (705) 335-0001

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