Laughren, as new chair, sees great opportunities for ONTC – by Ron Grech (Timmins Daily Press – March 4, 2015)

TIMMINS – Former Timmins Mayor Tom Laughren sees a great opportunity for Ontario Northland to make better use of its assets and to generate more revenues and attract more clients.

Laughren, it was announced last week, has been nominated for appointment as chairman of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission rail and bus service.

Laughren’s nomination, as well as the nomination of board members Steven Carmichael, Ewen Cornick, Gaeten Malette and Ila Watson, is subject to the approval of the standing committee on government agencies. “I think we’re going to go in with the goal to create an entity that is sustainable,” he said. “New direction, new customers, new clients, that’s been one of the downfalls of Ontario Northland, especially on the rail side.

“We’ve just watched Resolute (the paper mill in Iroquois Falls) close. I’m sure Resolute would have been a huge user of Ontario Northland. We’ve seen the changes at the Kidd Metallurgical site (with the Hoyle smelter closing). So we all know the importance of rail but we also have to look at new opportunities and future opportunities.”

Laughren expects it will be late March or early April before the standing committee makes its final approval on the chairman and board members.

Asked about the implications for his hometown residents of having a former Timmins mayor as chairman of ONTC, Laughren said, “They can take comfort in the fact I have always been a strong advocate for Timmins and Northeastern Ontario and that was always my goal when I looked at this was my passion as it relates to the importance of transportation to communities, to industry.”

He said they will likely follow through on “some of the things we were looking at when I was on the Minister’s Advisory Committee. I look at the refurbishing shop as a huge opportunity. It is state-of-the-art and ties in with the Northern Ontario Growth Plan.

“I think when you look at what has been happening with the oil cars, some of the derailments, there is an opportunity there to refurbish, to fix them up to new standards. We can look at partnerships with Metrolinx. I think all of those things are going to be important.”

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