Premier feeling the heat from Ring of Fire – by Staff (Northern Ontario Business – May 12, 2017)

Wynne reportedly upset over lack of First Nation consensus on access road

Premier Kathleen Wynne is reportedly getting tough with northern First Nation chiefs over hold-ups in the construction of a Ring of Fire road.

The Globe and Mail obtained a recent letter from an impatient Wynne to the nine Matawa chiefs indicating her government can’t afford any more delays and is prepared to start one-on-one negotiations with individual communities that do want development, if consensus can’t be reached.

For three years, the Ontario government has promised to invest $1 billion for mining-related transportation infrastructure but the money hasn’t been released in three successive budgets, including this past April’s spring budget.

At the same time, the provincially-created Regional Framework process, launched in April 2014, to address environmental concerns among the Matawa communities, and to define how Indigenous people will participate in natural resource development, appears to have no end in sight.

The government wants consensus on the road from the nine communities before proceeding with a plan. Since the departure of Cliffs Natural Resources from the Ring of Fire in 2015, the Wynne government needs some positive news on this file heading into a June 2018 election.

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