Ontario Mining Association Helps Launch Far North Planning Legislation

This article was provided by the Ontario Mining Association (OMA), an organization that was established in 1920 to represent the mining industry of the province.

Ontario Mining Association President Chris Hodgson was on hand to help Minister of Natural Resources Donna Cansfield raise the curtain on Far North planning legislation earlier this week.   This legislation is a step towards permanent protection of about half, or 225,000 square kilometres, of Ontario´s Far North through a network of conservation areas.

This new bill proposes to enable community based land use planning involving First Nations in the determination of areas to be protected and areas available for sustainable economic development, to conserve habitat for a number of animal and plant species and to assist climate change efforts by ensuring much of Ontario´s Far North landscape acts as a giant carbon sink.  “This legislation would contribute to a sustainable and more prosperous future for the people and communities of the Far North and provide important and far-reaching environmental and economic benefits for our province as a whole,” said Minister Cansfield.

“On behalf of OMA members, we favour an open and transparent approach in which information is shared,” said Mr. Hodgson.  “Adding greater certainty to the process in a timely fashion assists in business related and investment and employment decisions.  We look forward to working with Minister Cansfield and her staff to help advance the Far North land use planning process.” 

Garry Clark, Executive Director of the Ontario Prospectors Association said “We are optimistic that the collection of geological data and other types of science data, needed for the project to be successful, will assist explorers and developers of the Far North´s mineral wealth.”  Monte Hummel, President Emeritus of World Wildlife Fund — Canada, said “WWF strongly supports the Premier´s Far North vision of protecting at least 50% of Ontario´s globally important boreal region, coupled with new economic prosperity for the people who live there.” 

Frank McKay, Council Chair of the Windigo First Nations Council said “The Chiefs that I represent support community-based land use planning.  We will continue to work with the MNR in a partnership approach.  We need to develop a process to resource this important project.” 

Individuals and organizations will have further opportunities to comment on this legislation over the summer when the MNR will hold consultations across the province.  Also, individuals are invited to comment through a posting on the Environmental Registry.  The government talks of balance with this legislation yet it seems it only establishes targets for conservation.  Perhaps for balance, some economic targets should be included?  Why not 10 new mines over the next 10 years?

The area impacted by this legislation covers approximately 450,000 square kilometres.  It is home to 24,000 predominantly First Nations people living in 36 communities.