Beware hexavalent chromium and the many ifs of the Coniston smelter – by Mark Gentili (Sudbury Northern Life – March 8, 2018)

Mark Gentili is the editor of Northern Life and

If the Ring of Fire development happens this lifetime … if the chromite market doesn’t tank … if Noront Resources isn’t bought out by a bigger miner … if Coniston is selected as the site for a chromite smelter … if, if, if.

There are a lot of ifs when it comes to the city’s bid to host a ferrochrome processing facility (a.k.a. a smelter) on the site of the old Inco smelter in Coniston. These ifs aside, what appears to be a relatively small group of opponents have already taken up the fight against the project.

I’m not criticizing people for holding the city to account and expressing an opinion — far from it. I’m all for having an engaged citizenry, willing to stand up for what it believes in. That’s democracy. No, that’s not what I’m writing about. Today (again) I want to talk about Ward 2 Coun. Michael Vagnini.

Before I do that though, I should say that I have nothing personal against Mr. Vagnini. I keep writing columns taking him to task for statements he’s made and positions he’s taken that have been conspiratorial, populist and, to my mind, misguided. He does it far more often than his colleagues on city council, which is why I keep writing about him.

I’m not doing it just to pick on him. In fact, I quite like Mr. Vagnini. As a politician, we have our differences. And as a possible mayoral candidate who often makes very public statements in opposition to city council, his opinions are fair game for criticism.

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