North Bay Mayor Al McDonald was upbeat Thursday as he emerged from an ONTC advisory committee meeting in Toronto involving Northern Development Minister Michael Gravelle.
It was the first meeting of the advisory group, involving Northern Ontario municipal politicians and stakeholders, since Gravelle’s announcement last week that divestment should not be the only option for the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission.
And McDonald said the meeting was in “stark contrast” to those that previously took place with former Northern Development Minister Rick Bartolucci. “It was a great meeting,” he said, unable to disclose specific details because the group is working under an agreement of confidentiality.
McDonald, however, was able to say that much of the meeting focused on studies and financial information regarding the Crown agency. And he said the conversation during the last portion of the three-hour meeting centred on divestment not being the only option.
He said the entire group is working in the same direction and wants what’s best for Northern Ontario. McDonald said the group also recognizes that time is of the essence and “something needs to be done quickly.”
The meeting comes about a week after Gravelle announced a major change direction in the province’s approach to the ONTC by telling a Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities conference in Parry Sound he has come to the conclusion other avenues need to be explored when it comes to the future of the Crown agency.
Although divestment remains an option and the process for Ontera has not been halted, the news other avenues may be explored has been welcomed by ONTC unions.
Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli, meanwhile, has suggested the shift is a clear reaction to his claims the government won’t save $265 million through divestment, but it will actually cost $265 million.
For the original version of this article, click here: http://www.nugget.ca/2013/05/16/meeting-focused-on-ontc-studies-finances