Just as we can’t plan a neighbourhood one road — or house — at a time, we cannot plan for sustainable economies, healthy ecosystems, and First Nations interests one project at a time.
Recently, Premier Kathleen Wynne threw down the gauntlet with Matawa First Nations, demanding it decide once and for all on the route of a long-discussed road to access the mineral-rich Ring of Fire region in the province’s northeast.
The problem with the premier’s challenge is that it is her government that has failed to come up with a strong direction for this supposed road to riches. The government has left it to various mining companies to propose potential routes while providing some funds to four communities that would be affected by the building of the mining road and subsequent opening up of their traditional territory to development.
The government is willing to put $1 billion on the table to pay for the road and invest more than $6.9 million in negotiations with Matawa First Nations for regional infrastructure among others.
Unfortunately, it has done little to actually assess the broader economic, social, and environmental impacts and opportunities of developing the region. This is a failure that speaks volumes about its weak approach to assessing the pros and cons of major developments in remote regions.
Development of the mineral-rich Ring of Fire has been touted as the next big opportunity to ignite the province’s mining sector since 2009. But as commodity prices tanked and the original project proponent, Cliffs Natural Resources, pulled out in 2013, the government has refused to take up any opportunity to engage in thoughtful regional and strategic planning.
For the rest of this article, click here: https://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2017/05/29/ontarios-ring-of-fire-development-plan-has-major-flaws.html