Province dinged on the ‘Ring of Fire’ – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – December 3, 2015)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

Ontario auditor-general Bonnie Lysyk’s value-for-money annual report, as it pertains to the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, outlines a pattern of inaction by the Liberal government to do anything to develop the Ring of Fire.

The province has shirked its responsibility to consult with first nations near the Ring of Fire, leaving that up to private companies, says Lysyk in the report.

It created a Ring of Fire secretariat in 2010 that has 19 employees and has spent $13.2 million in the last five years while missing deadlines established by the ministry and lacking performance measures to assess its effectiveness.

Not a penny of the $1 billion promised by the province to develop Ring of Fire infrastructure has been spent, said the auditor-general.

The Ring of Fire Infrastructure Development Corporation set up in 2014 to accelerate the building of roads, hydro and other services still has no representation on its board from first nations or industry. It continues to be run by five senior bureaucrats.

Yet it cost $550,000 to set it up and it is expected it will have annual expenditures of $4 million, including $2.5 million for staffing, when it is operational.

Lysyk offers recommendations to ensure the “timely development” of the Ring of Fire. She says the ministry should:

  • Establish a detailed plan with measurable outcomes, and regularly assess and report on progress in achieving them;
  • Work to engage all stakeholders, including the federal government, in the funding and development of the region;
  • Work to expedite negotiations with aboriginal communities.

Nipissing Progressive Conservative MPP Vic Fedeli, who has visited the Ring of Fire five times, couldn’t agree more with what he called a “searing” report by Lysyk. He said the audit shows that millions of dollars is being spent by government on administration and none to develop infrastructure.

Algoma-Manitoulin New Democrat MPP Michael Mantha said the ministry has spent more on staffing its secretariat in the last five years than it has on anything constructive in the Ring of Fire. He said the report confirms what his party has been saying for years about inaction in the Ring of Fire.

Fedeli said it’s frustrating to let what Lysyk called the most promising mineral find in a century sit idle because the provincial Liberals have no plan to move it forward.

The headlines in Lysyk’s report tell the story, said Fedeli.

“Ring of Fire development has been slow,” “Little development on the Ring of Fire to date,” “Province lacks detailed plan or timeline to develop Ring of Fire,” Secretariat missing deadlines, lacks performance measures to assess effectiveness in aiding development,” “Stakeholders not engaged in the RofF development corporation.”

For the rest of his article, click here: http://www.thesudburystar.com/2015/12/03/province-dinged-on-the-ring-of-fire

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