Call out for Northerners to support forestry – by Kyle Gennings (Timmins Daily Press – February 22, 2013)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

TIMMINS – The Federation Of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) wants citizens to speak up. The organization wants the help of Northerners to help ensure the economic potential of the boreal forest isn’t stifled by increasingly expanding changes driven by special interest groups.

Al Spacek, mayor of Kapuskasing and head of FONOM, feels that current environmental practices have more than proven themselves as not only viable. But forward thinking and any further rigidity will only result in the strangulation of a potential economic boom in the North.

“What we really have been emphasizing is the fact that the current legislation under what is called the Crown Forest Capability Act is more than adequate to protect our forests,” he said. “The industry has developed around that act, which is very detailed in how we need need to take care of the environment and we are concerned that the environmental groups are going to be successful in adding more bureaucracy and more restrictions on what forestry companies have to comply with.”

With area forests currently thriving at the same size and density that they did 100 years ago, before major settlement. Spacek said that further changes will only serve to flush the province’s economy further down the drain.

“The MNR is currently asking for input on the the act itself and this whole question of whether or not we need more protection,” he said. “This is why we are encouraging people to get on the record saying that the current legislation is accurate and viable.”

Given the recent changes in leadership at Queen’s Park, Spacek is optimistic that given the proper support from Northerners, the leading Liberals will stand up and listen.

“Our previous Minister of Natural Resources was very supportive of the current legislation, which makes me hopeful that the support will continue,” he said. “But there is a lot of pressure coming from the NGOs (non-government organizations) and environmental groups. But I do think that given input and support from Northerners, that the ministry will continue to take the position that the current act is adequate.”

Spacek said that if the pressure from environmental groups continues the way it has, it will bend the forestry industry in Ontario, maybe even break it.

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