Ontera sell-off worries Northern [Ontario] leaders – by Wayne Snider (Timmins Daily Press – October 23, 2012)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

IROQUOIS FALLS – Even though Northlander passenger service has already been derailed, leaders from across Northeastern Ontario are still fighting for the ONTC.

Since the provincial government announced plans to divest itself of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission, members of the Northeastern Ontario Municipal Association (NEOMA) have been lobbying to save the services provided by the ONTC.

With passenger rail service now gone for the Hwy. 11 corridor, NEOMA is turning the bulk of its attention to preserving freight rail and infrastructure to the information highway.

Members of NEOMA, at its quarterly meeting in Iroquois Falls on Friday, discussed the future of ONTC. Northern leaders expressed frustration of the fact that the provincial government has not been sharing a lot of information about the divestiture.

“We’ve met with the government several times about the freight rail,” said Timmins Mayor Tom Laughren, chairman of NEOMA. “We haven’t been getting a lot of traction.

“It’s a fight we can not let go. The freight rail is so important to our future, both for our communities and industry.”

While he too is also concerned with the future of freight rail in the region, Cochrane Mayor Peter Politis also fears the loss of Ontera, the telecommunications arm of the ONTC.

“Ontera is a very important piece when I think of our public infrastructure,” he said. “We look at roads and we look at rail quite a bit. But we don’t seem to concentrate as much on the fact that communications and IT are key to growth in our society.

“Ontera has invested a pile of money — you and I as taxpayers have payed for it — into a fibre optic cable system. We are worried now that this system is going to be captured by the private sector.”

For the rest of this article, please go to the Timmins Daily Press website: http://www.timminspress.com/2012/10/23/ontera-sell-off-worries-northern-leaders