Sudbury lags behind peers in growth – by Jonathan Migneault (Sudbury Star – March 14, 2013)

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

Sudbury was one of only two Canadian cities, along with Windsor, that saw a small population decline from 2005 to 2012, according to a report by the Conference Board of Canada’s Centre for Municipal Studies.

According to the report, Sudbury’s economy expanded by just 0.6% in 2012. But Mario Lefebvre, director of the Centre for Municipal Studies, said he expects Sudbury’s economy to bounce back in 2013.

“We are seeing some light at the end of the tunnel,” Lefebvre said. “That being said, I wouldn’t want to leave you with the message that the bottom line has changed and you don’t have to address any issues when it comes to future population and productivity growth.”

The study said real gross domestic product is expected to grow by 1.7% in 2013 and 2% in 2014. The construction of Vale’s $360-million Totten nickel mine — the first new mine in Sudbury in 40 years — is expected to play a significant role in that growth.

Lefebvre said Sudbury needs to take lessons from Western cities like Regina and Winnipeg, and reach out to immigrants to increase growth. David Robinson, director of Laurentian University’s Institute for Northern Ontario Research and Development, said the biggest factor holding back economic growth in Sudbury is weak local leadership.

“It’s not a particularly imaginative period in the life of Sudbury politics,” Robinson said.

Robinson said the city has not taken the necessary steps to attract talent to the city. What positive steps have happened, like the new School of Architecture, have not gone far enough, Robinson added. He said the city should push for a downtown student residence, for example.

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