Ring of Fire reports coming after election – by Ron Grech (Timmins Daily Press – May 21, 2014)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

TIMMINS – A Northern think-tank is on the verge of releasing its first report which deals with road versus rail access into the Ring of Fire. However, the head of that institute says they are holding off on releasing the research until after the June 12 provincial election.

“The challenge with the Ring of Fire, of course, is managing expectations, getting a sense of how long this is going to take and who can we expect to benefit at various stages,” said Charles Cirtwill, president and chief executive of the Northern Policy Institute.

“Ring of Fire mines are quite a long way down the pipe” yet there are already training programs being created to prepare a skilled workforce, Cirtwill noted.

“We need to talk about what are we building for the infrastructure, what are the opportunities if we build a rail line, which communities can that service, and which communities can it potentially negatively affect.”

While there has been much discussion lately about developing infrastructure to support new mines within the mineral-rich area, some communities, Cirtwill said, are bracing for a negative impact.

“I had a wonderful chat with the folks in Pickle Lake who are very concerned about what happens when we’ve got all-weather, all-season roads through there. What happens to the supply bases that are running out of Pickle Lake and the employment that results from that? So not everything is 100% win as part of the Ring of Fire. We really need to have those discussions.”

The goal of NPI, Cirtwill said, is to share information and to ensure both politicians and members of the public are able to engage in knowledgeable discussions on the issues.

Cirtwill was in Timmins Wednesday to meet with local municipal leaders, economic development officials and business people for an information session on Northern issues.

While its first report is on the Ring of Fire, NPI’s mandate is examine issues well beyond the scope of the James Bay lowlands.

“We’ve got about 15 to 20 reports commissioned,” Cirtwill explained. “We’ve got three or four just about ready to publish. We’ve got a couple on minimum wage, we’ve got one looking at how to manage the Ring of Fire infrastructure … We’ve got one coming on the Aboriginal control of the Aboriginal Education Act, the federal discussion of how to structure that going forward. Another piece is on the provincial policy statements — we’re looking at land-use planning and the author there is particularly concerned that the land-use rules have been written essentially to manage Mississauga and the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) which really doesn’t apply to Timmins or Sudbury or Kapuskasing or Hearst.”

Cirtwill said his stop in Timmins Wednesday was the latest in a series of information sessions NPI is hosting across the North.

“We’ve held one in North Bay, we’ve held one in Thunder Bay, and we’re here in Timmins,” he said. “The goal of them is to kind of get the community engaged, remind them that we exist, tell them how we work and encourage them to keep reaching out.”

NPI is a not-for-profit organization funded by the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund with offices in Sudbury and Thunder Bay.

Cirtwill invited people to visit the institute’s website at northernpolicy.ca to learn more, get involved or provide opinions.

For the original version of this article, click here: http://www.timminspress.com/2014/05/21/ring-of-fire-reports-coming-after-election

 

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