Sudbury needs to be aggressive: LU prof – by Harold Carmichael (Sudbury Star – June 9, 2012)

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

Sudbury is “drifting along” and needs to get more creative if it wants to take advantage of Northern Ontario’s resource boom, a Laurentian University economics professor said Friday. David Robinson said he came to that conclusion after comparing job growth so far this year in Sudbury and Thunder Bay.

Robinson pointed the finger directly at city councils of recent years for not being for ward-thinking enough. “We’re just drifting along,” he said. “There was a time in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, when the leaders in this community were very, very enthusiastic. (Now), they spend their time on tiny things that prevent them from dealing with the big picture.”

For example, Robinson said Greater Sudbury will be the last of the big cities in northeastern Ontario to get working on a transportation plan. He said the 20-minute drive out to the Greater Sudbury Airport from the city core doesn’t cut it when Thunder Bay’s airport is located next to hotels. “We are not competing with Thunder Bay for access to the North,” he said.

Robinson also said Sudbury doesn’t do enough to promote itself.

“The entire North region is going to develop,” he said. “We need to be way more aggressive. What is happening is Sudbury is acting more like a southern Ontario city. It’s not getting the ‘downs’ (in unemployment) but it’s also not getting the big ‘pickups’.

“Timmins is getting it. Thunder Bay is getting it. We got lucky, very lucky, with the (Cliffs Natural Resources chromite) smelter. It’s good news to get it here. But the need for the servicing of the Far North is already happening and will end up being provided in places like Timmins and Thunder Bay, since they are closer.

“If that’s the case, we are going to be a second-line city. We have to figure out how we are going to get a share of the growth.”

Robinson’s negative assessment comes a week after a report by BMO Capital Markets Economics, which predicted the next four years will bring 4,000 new jobs to Sudbury.

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