A mix of optimism, a fresh start and a healthy dose of reality pervade the Look North report on the economy of northern Manitoba.
“What we’re suggesting is this is a starting point so we can capitalize on the opportunities that exist in the north,” said Look North task force co-chair Chuck Davidson, president of the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce.
The Look North report and action plan for northern Manitoba economic development was produced by a provincially appointed task force that held its first meeting in December 2016. The task force is co-chaired by Davidson and Christian Sinclair, an independent business adviser and member of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation.
The second paragraph of the action plan acknowledges “the region is in decline, suffering significant job losses in key industries.” Mining giant Vale is in the midst of closing its Birchtree Mine and will shut down its smelter and refining facilities in Thompson by mid-2018. Approximately 700 staff will be affected by the downsizing.
The railway to Churchill was closed by a late-May flood and negotiations between Omnitrax Rail and the federal government to repair it and arrange a purchase of the infrastructure from the Denver-based company have dragged on far longer than people along the line had hoped.
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