Northern leaders will have to get on board to save ONTC – by John R. Hunt (Sudbury Star – June 6, 2012)

 The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

‘You have to give something if you want to get something.” This is the opinion of a veteran municipal politician. Colleen Belanger was mayor of Coleman Township, near Temiskaming Shores, for 16 years. She cheerfully admits she has no desire to return to municipal politics.

“Mayor Dan Cleroux did me a great favour when he won the last election. Now I have time to enjoy myself,” she says. But she is angry and worried by the impending death of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission and fears Northern mayors who want to meet Premier Dalton McGuinty must do more than protest.

“The premier has stuck his neck out. The North has to offer something that makes sense and gives him a good reason to change his mind,” she says. The main excuse for McGuinty’s decision to kill the ONTC is that ridership on the ONR is too low. So, why don’t the mayors of all the towns along the line promise to increase it?

Belanger admits when she was mayor she took the Ontario Northland Railway for granted and should have done much more to promote it.

Coleman Township often sent delegations to attend municipal conferences and conventions. It was not until 2006 when she was injured in a highway accident that she realized how convenient and useful the railway passenger service is.

“There are many senior citizens and people recovering from accidents who must travel to North Bay or Toronto and found the train essential, or at least a lot more comfortable than a bus. I do not know how they will manage if the train service is cut off,” she said.

For the rest of this column, please go to the Sudbury Star website:

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