Northern [Ontario] mayors lobby for infrastructure funds – by Gord Young (North Bay Nugget – July 6, 2015)

The mayor’s of Northern Ontario’s largest cities want a portion of the province’s planned infrastructure investment outside of the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area to be used to help pay for projects in their communities.

Mayor Al McDonald said the Northern Ontario Large Urban Mayors group – consisting of North Bay, Sudbury, Timmins, Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay – have agreed to lobby the province during upcoming infrastructure consultations for a share of the provincial funding.

The province is holding consultations across Ontario this summer to help determine how to allocate $11.5 billion of a $15-billion investment outside the Greater Toronto and Hamilton areas as part of a long-term infrastructure plan.

And McDonald said the mayors’ group will ask that a portion of the funding be earmarked for municipal infrastructure needs, specifically large critical projects and those that will help boost economic development.

“We know that the province will have its own priorities,” he said, acknowledging dollars will also likely be directed toward provincial responsibilities such as highways, bridges, hospitals and schools.

But McDonald noted that a number of projects within the city’s 10-year capital plan have been deferred in recent years. And he said funding for one or two larger projects in North Bay would go a long way in addressing the city’s needs.

McDonald said infrastructure and the upcoming consultations were the focus of a lengthy meeting of the large urban mayor’s group last week in Thunder Bay.

North Bay was not included in the list of communities where the province plans to hold round-table discussions about how to allocate the $11.5 billion in funding. But McDonald said he will be attending a consultation in Sudbury July 15.

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