The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.
Ontario has formally asked the federal government to match the $1 billion it has committed to infrastructure for the Ring of Fire with $1 billion from its Building Canada Fund.
Brad Duguid, Ontario’s minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure, nominated the Ring of Fire project under the national infrastructure component (NIC) of the fund.
The $4-billion NIC supports projects of national significance that have broad public benefits and contribute to Canada’s long-term economic growth and prosperity.
Ontario’s Northern Development and Mines Minister, Michael Gravelle, said the Ring of Fire offers tremendous opportunity. By developing a transportation corridor and building hydroelectric systems, many First Nations will be able to “get off diesel,” said Gravelle.
“We can open up all kinds of economic development opportunities and that’s where the contribution from the federal government is so important.”
From the provincial perspective, the Ring of Fire is not just about building a road corridor to a mine site, said Gravelle.
“That’s obviously going to be a crucial decision that will have to be made. What this is about ultimately is an opportunity to truly open up the North, to provide access to communities. That’s where we believe quite strongly, certainly from a jurisdictional point of view, that the federal government has a very direct role to play.”
Before the June 2014 general election, Premier Kathleen Wynne made what Gravelle calls a locked-in commitment of $1 billion for Ring infrastructure.
But the province has maintained all along it needs the participation of the federal government “in a very significant way” for the Ring of Fire to reach its full potential, he said.
The federal government is splitting the cost of a $785,000 study of an all-weather road to the Ring of Fire in Northwestern Ontario. The study is looking at a transportation corridor to connect potential mineral deposits in the Ring and four remote First Nations (Webequie, Eabametoong, Neskantaga and Nibinamik) to Pickle Lake, about 500 km northwest of Thunder Bay.
“So, the work continues, the commitment to make sure we get this project right continues,” Gravelle said last week. “Part of getting it right is having the federal government join us with these infrastructure dollars.”
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