The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.
The Government of Ontario won’t put a number on the “significant investment” it is committed to making to develop infrastructure in the Ring of Fire. But whatever that figure is, it wants the federal government to match it.
Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle told reporters in Sudbury on Thursday it’s important to have discussions about developing the vast chromite deposits “without setting the bar, without putting a figure in place.”
That’s because the costs of developing transportation, power and other infrastructure will vary according to whether access to remote first nations communities is factored in or not.
But Gravelle insisted the Liberal government of Premier Kathleen Wynne is committed to investing heavily and is looking for that same level of commitment from Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives. When the time is appropriate, his government will reveal what kind of money it is prepared to invest in developing the remote area 540 kilomteres northeast of Thunder Bay.
Gravelle said he believes, and first nations agree, that whatever transportation structure is put in place, it should include opportunities for those communities to have access, and to get off diesel and onto hydro generation.
Gravelle spoke to about 140 people at a luncheon held by the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce, during which he outlined his government’s record of investment in mining and in other services in the North.
He spoke about what he said was an historic regional framework agreement signed Wednesday between the province and the Matawa chiefs, who represent nine first nations whose territories fall within the Ring of Fire.
That agreement was vital, Gravelle, and means the province and first nations can now move forward with more formal discussions on a range of issues such as resource revenue sharing, regional infrastructure support and an enhanced environmental assessment process.
Signing the agreement was also an important step in moving what has seemed to some as stalled development of the Ring of Fire.
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