Sudden decision to drop rail service in [Ontario] North no surprise – by Wayne Snider (Sudbury Star – September 22, 2012)

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

It should come as no great surprise that municipal leaders across Northeastern Ontario are hopping mad with the provincial government over the sell-off of the ONTC.

The Ontario Northland Transportation Commission, which is publicly funded by the province, has been a key catalyst to industrial growth throughout the region. While disappointed with the decision to divest the ONTC, the real anger stems from how the issue has been handled by the government.

Leaders from Northeastern Ontario were promised by the ruling Liberals they would be consulted along the way, as things progressed. But late last month, Northern Development and Mines Minister Rick Bartolucci suddenly announced Ontario Northland rail service would be shut down in September.

That prompted an angry response from the Federation of Northeastern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM), which represents 110 cities and towns across the region.

“It’s become another late-in-the-week, trying-to-fly-below-radar announcement that otherwise wouldn’t stand up to either the smell test or to public scrutiny,” said Kapuskasing Mayor Alan Spacek, who is president of FONOM.

“The province has blind-sided every community in Northeastern Ontario with a cavalier decision made behind closed doors in Toronto,” he said. “This will negatively affect future community, industrial and economic growth in Northern Ontario by closing the Ontario Northland Railway in September 2012.”

Resources are the lifeblood of Northern Ontario, and a major economic contributor to the entire province. Without a mining boom in the North, the impact of the recession would have been much worse in Ontario. (Where else in the province is there a shortage of workers other than in the mining industry?)

ONTC rail is vital to resource-based industries.

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