Northeastern Ontario municipalities back First Nations’ proposal for a railway across traditional lands for Ring of Fire – by Len Gilles (Timmins Daily Press – May 19, 2015)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

Martin was a guest speaker at the spring meeting of NEOMA, the Northeastern Ontario Municipal Association, which met in Iroquois Falls on Friday.

He outlined for municipal leaders from across the North how the plan is to build and east-west rail corridor from Moosonee, up to Kashechewan and then over to Webequie, where the Ring Of Fire mining prospects are located. Further to that, Martin said Mushkegowuk also wants to install a high voltage hydro transmission line to the same area.

The Ring of Fire is the name given to the vast deposit of chromite and nickel, located in the McFauld’s Lake and Webequie area, about 600 kilometres north-west of Timmins. The prospect is valued in the tens of billions of dollars.

After an extensive presentation by Grand Chief Martin on Friday, NEOMA members voted on, and approved, a resolution of support put forward by the City of Timmins, seeking formal support for the Mushkegowuk plan.

Before the resolution could be voted on, Cochrane mayor Peter Politis stood up to say he had a concern about the Timmins resolution, which he said had a “nuance” about the conceptual support for Mushkegowuk to privatize the rail service in Northeastern Ontario.

Politis said he was not sure that Northern communities want to see the rail service privatized even though he was confident there would be support for the Mushkegowuk rail link per se. He said the nuance in the resolution would play right into the hands of the Queen’s Park Liberals who have been working to divest the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission and its assets, such as the Ontario Northland Railway (ONR).

“The challenge with this right now, is if we do that our fear is that we give the government, we give the province exactly what they need which is to divest themselves of the ONR,” said Politis, who convinced the organization to amend the resolution.

The amended resolution noted that a fully functional rail service and improved transportation corridors are critical for the sustainability and growth of Northeastern Ontario and First Nations communities.

Also included in the resolution was the statement that NEOMA is in support of a “public-private partnership” that recognizes a previous NEOMA position that the ONTC and the Ontario Northland Railway remains in the public sector, as an agency of the Ontario government.

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