ONTC unions pitch plan [Ring of Fire railroad] – by Jennifer Hamilton-McCharles (North Bay Nugget – October 19, 2012)


The General Chairperson’s Association is asking the province to consider a proposal that would revitalize Ontario Northland and keep hundreds of workers employed.

The plan was unveiled Friday at North Bay city hall in front of Ontario Northland Transportation Commission employees, CEO Paul Goulet, politicians and CAW Local 103 president Brian Kelly.

Brian Stevens of the General Chairperson’s Association, representing unionized ONTC employees, called the proposal “economically sustainable” and said it would provide a new future for Northern Ontario.

“Not only will we save transportation services and hundreds of existing jobs in the North, but our plan will also create thousands more jobs by providing access to the Ring of Fire,” he said following the announcement.

The proposal includes transferring ownership of the provincial Crown corporation to a new ports authority under the federal Canada Marine Act. The first step in that process was recently completed with the creation of the James Bay and Lowlands Ports Trustee Corp., which would become a port authority if approved by the federal government. The corporation has already had discussions regarding the proposal with First Nations in the James Bay Lowlands, ONTC unions and Ring of Fire claim holder Canada Chrome Corp.

The Ring of Fire, about 250 kilometres west of James Bay, holds North America’s largest deposit of chromite. The site is in a remote area without rail lines, all-season roads, electricity or communications networks. Three companies have been exploring the site to better define what minerals are there. But no decision has yet been made about how and by what route the site will be accessed.

The unions’ proposal includes building a rail line that would be designed to ship thousands of tons per day of chromite, nickel and other materials from the Ring of Fire site. The new line would run from Nakina to Koper Lake in Northwestern Ontario.

The plan also includes rebuilding a railway, formerly owned by Canadian National Railway, from Nakina to Hearst. From there, the existing Ontario Northland railway continues to North Bay.

The new railway would be funded through private investors and bonds.

“Mining companies want to develop up there. This would explode (the North) right open,” Stevens said.

For the rest of this article, please go to the North Bay Nugget website: http://www.nugget.ca/2012/10/19/new-plan-for-northern-ontario