Hobbs is right: build a new road – Editorial (Thunder Bay Chronicle – Journal – January 18, 2016)


Thunder Bay Mayor Keith Hobbs’ call last week for the creation of another paved highway straight through Northwestern Ontario resulted in some tittering among some of his regional counterparts, but we think Hobbs is on to something.

As anyone who has missed a medical appointment, or a flight, due to a prolonged Trans-Canada road closure knows too well, our neck of the woods is hardly teeming with highways.

While the province scrambled last week to deal with the closure of the Nipigon River bridge (now open to one lane), it noted that the structure is the “link” between this country’s west and east. The only one, in fact, when travelling by paved road.

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Ontario’s Nipigon River bridge fails, severing Trans-Canada Highway – by Amy Husser (CBC News Thunder Bay – January 10, 2016)


‘This is the one place in Canada where there is only one road, one bridge across the country’

A newly constructed bridge in northern Ontario has heaved apart, indefinitely closing the Trans-Canada highway — the only road connecting Eastern and Western Canada.

The Nipigon River Bridge has been closed for “an indefinite time due to mechanical issues,” according to the Ontario Provincial Police. The bridge remains open to pedestrian traffic.

Steven Del Duca, minister of transportation for Ontario, said in a statement late Sunday the ministry “will do everything they can do to restore the bridge quickly, while also making sure that the safety of the travelling public remains of paramount importance.”

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THUNDER BAY – April 27, 2015 – The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is highlighting Thunder Bay & Northwestern Ontario as the first region of its new ‘Canada’s Resource Cities’ series. These short reports will help Canadians living in urban areas understand how much the prosperity of their communities depends on our natural resource industries.

Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce President Charla Robinson comments, “Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario are proud of our heritage as one of Canada’s resource cities. We are honoured to partner with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce to highlight the success stories of our region with businesses across the country.”

Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce says, “Canada’s cities are the places where rocks, plants and hydrocarbons are transformed into the engines of our economy. They are the places that create the knowledge and technology to extract, harvest, transport and process natural resources in an efficient and environmentally responsible manner.”

Our Canada’s Resource Cities infographic is online at: www.tbchamber.ca/resource-cities . Printed copies of the infographic booklet are available at the Chamber of Commerce office.

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Finnish community in Thunder Bay struggles to save landmark restaurant – by Allan Maki (Globe and Mail – Marc 19, 2015)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

It has stood for 105 years as a measure of Thunder Bay’s history, a three-storey building with a restaurant that has fed generations of locals, many of them of Finnish descent. Others too, passing through or staying on the north shore of Lake Superior, have found comfort at the hallowed Hoito.

But now that building, once home to political activists, and its restaurant, the Hoito, are on the brink of financial ruin. With a debt load of more than $700,000, those working to keep the Hoito going are facing a hard fight. They understand what they’re up against and they know what could be lost.

“It’s filled with history,” said Kelly Saxberg, a member of the city’s Finlandia Association which oversees what was once the Finnish Labour Temple and is now a national historic site. “It’s a living museum.”

If you mention Thunder Bay to Canadians who live elsewhere, it won’t take long for them to mention the Hoito. The restaurant draws them all – workers, locals, tourists, even celebrities. Comedian Rick Mercer tried his hands at pancake making. Hockey legend Gordie Howe and his wife Colleen ate there. In 2009, Jordan Staal, then with the Pittsburgh Penguins, ate there and brought the Stanley Cup with him.

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A debate in, for the North – Editorial (Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal – May 21, 2014)

Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal is the daily newspaper of Northwestern Ontario.

Two weeks after it was issued, and with one week left before the event, there is still no word whether Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak will accept an invitation to attend a May 26 debate on Northern Ontario issues. Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath have accepted the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association invitation to Thunder Bay May 26. On Tuesday, Hudak’s campaign office called it “unfortunate” that Wynne, Horwath “or anybody else” would publicly confirm a date before confirming it with the Tories who are seeking alternate dates to accommodate Hudak’s schedule.

Changing the date now would simply cause the other two leaders to have to juggle their schedules. NOMA says it offered a selection of dates and when nobody responded by May 7, it set May 26. That’s the date that Hudak has to make.
Last election it was then Liberal premier Dalton McGuinty who opted to forego a northern leaders debate.

This time, Wynne challenged her two opponents to a northern debate in advance of her May 1 budget in case it was defeated. Horwath accepted while Hudak demurred. We find it surprising that Hudak can apparently not make himself available next Monday. What is so important that he can’t be here?

There is no shortage of things to talk about. What does Wynne have to say about all reasons for the delay in Ring of Fire mining development and precisely what will all leaders do to hasten the project from the day they take office?

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Minerals ‘aren’t going anywhere’ (Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal – April 8, 2014)

Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal is the daily newspaper of Northwestern Ontario.

Given the depressed state of metal prices, they could be forgiven for feeling a little morose. But the Ontario Prospectors Association says it expects to attract more than 300 participants today and Wednesday to its annual Thunder Bay mines and minerals symposium.

And the mood should be upbeat, despite price drops in key metals like copper and gold. “You get a bunch of prospectors, geologists and junior miners in one room and you can’t help feeling optimistic,” OPA executive director Garry Clark remarked Monday from his Thunder Bay office.

“I think people are cautiously optimistic about the market’s ability to raise money for exploration,” Clark added.
“The minerals (in the ground) aren’t going anywhere.”

Last year’s event attracted about 500 participants, but that was before metal prices crashed and many companies — including major Northwestern Ontario industry players like Barrick Gold and Cliffs Natural Resources — downsized or halted operations.

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Out of sight, out of mind [Nuclear Waste] – Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal Editorial (March 23, 2014)

Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal is the daily newspaper of Northwestern Ontario.

IT has been 35 years since the governments of Canada and Ontario established the Nuclear Fuel Waste Management Program to develop a concept to safely and permanently dispose of the radioactive byproducts of nuclear energy. We are told it will be 2035 before a repository can be operating. So there is no hurry.

It took authorities just a year, though, to propose deep geological disposal in Northern Ontario’s granite as opposed to finding a way to keep the stuff near to where it is produced in southern Ontario.

There is a great deal to be said for geological disposal. Earthquakes are rare here and not violent. What ground movement there is would not be enough to dislodge lead-lined canisters filled with nuclear waste stored 500 metres down in rock caves backfilled with concrete. Groundwater movement is minimal. Still, nuclear waste remains radioactive for a long time.

So there is a risk, however small, no matter where this material is stored. Would the risk be greater in a vault of some description near the reactors in southern Ontario? Would terrorists be more likely to try to steal it there than here or enroute?

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Mining, moose and consultation (Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal Editorial – January 12, 2014)

Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal is the daily newspaper of Northwestern Ontario.

GIVE Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug full marks for consistency. No matter what is proposed on its lands around Big Trout Lake, 375 km north of Thunder Bay, KI and its feisty chief, Donny Morris will probably oppose it. Two mining ventures — potential economic winfalls — were stopped cold and now Morris has told the Ministry of Natural Resources not to conduct an aerial moose population survey.

The band’s position is rooted in the evolving legal requirement for consultation before anything can proceed. Indeed, Morris gets credit for helping to lead this important process. First Nations must be consulted and reasonably accommodated when outside ventures like mining are proposed. And if a band wants no part of such proposals, no matter their potential to lift people out of poverty and create job training and employment, well, that is apparently its right.

No one should deny a community the courtesy of sitting down and working out rules for such things. But Morris has made such a habit of opposition that it is beginning to appear counter-productive.

Mining company Platinex was first to try to set up shop around KI. Operating under terms of the Mining Act it began exploring and there soon arose a dispute over KI’s lack of permission.

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Lakehead mining institute opens dialogue on sustainable development – by Ian Ross (Northern Ontario Business – November 26, 2013)

Established in 1980, Northern Ontario Business provides Canadians and international investors with relevant, current and insightful editorial content and business news information about Ontario’s vibrant and resource-rich North. Ian Ross is the editor of Northern Ontario Business ianross@nob.on.ca.

Lakehead University’s fledgling mining research institute wants to take a pragmatic, solutions-based, approach to advancing exploration in Northern Ontario starting with an inaugural conference.

The newly minted Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Mining and Exploration is hosting an event aimed at examining past, current and future public policy and how it promotes sustainable mining development.

“The Role of Government Policy in Sustainable Mining Development” is set for December 5-6 at the Thunder Bay campus. “It’s our first major event to advance our goals as a centre,” said institute director Peter Hollings.

The conference will bring together Canadian and world leaders in mining policy and mineral development with speakers and representatives from First Nations, Metis, local communities, government and industry attending.

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As Ring of Fire called off, Thunder Bay teeters between boom and bust – by Ashley Renders (National Post – November 22, 2013)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

When Cliffs Natural Resources suspended the Ring of Fire project that had promised to bring jobs and prosperity to the city of Thunder Bay, it proved what local authorities already know: Economic growth in the mining industry is hard to predict and even harder to plan for.

Once a bustling grain port, then an important forestry centre, the biggest city in northwestern Ontario knows how quickly jobs can disappear in the resource industry.

Nine other mines are still expected to open in the Thunder Bay area before 2017, leaving some hope for job growth in the city’s future. But volatile metal prices mean Thunder Bay doesn’t know whether it is about to be the next Fort McMurray, or the same old hard luck Thunder Bay.

The city has essentially experienced zero population growth since 1971 and an under-performing economy for the last 10 years, says a report released earlier this year by Thunder Bay Ventures, a non-profit organization working on economic development.

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November 15, 2013

Mauro and Gravelle Announce Province Converting Thunder Bay Coal Plant to Advanced Biomass

Ontario will achieve its goal to eliminate coal-fired generation before the end of 2014.

Over the next year, the Thunder Bay Generating Station (TBGS) will stop burning coal and be converted to use advanced biomass as fuel for electricity generation.

TBGS, which is operated by Ontario Power Generation (OPG), will be the first advanced biomass station in the world that was formerly a coal plant and will have a five-year contract to generate electricity. The modifications to the plant will begin in 2014, and it is expected to be operational in 2015.
Eliminating coal-fired generation and protecting the environment while providing clean, reliable and affordable power is part of the government’s plan to invest in people, build modern infrastructure and support a dynamic and innovative business climate across Ontario.

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What’s with the bears [northern Ontario]? – Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal (October 1, 2013)

Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal is the daily newspaper of Northwestern Ontario.

ANOTHER bear attack; another call for resumption of the spring bear hunt; another defence of bears that are baited by shooters sitting in tree stands. It’s been 14 years since Ontario banned spring hunting for bears hungry after winter hibernation. In that time there have been a remarkable number of bear attacks on humans.

Is there a direct connection? Hunting advocates insist it is obvious while the Ministry of Natural Resources points to variations in natural food sources and carelessness by humans increasingly living or travelling in the forest.

The latest incident occurred Sunday near Peterborough. A 53-year-old woman is recovering after being attacked and mauled by a bear while walking her dogs on a trail. The dogs were also injured when they came to the woman’s rescue.

Bear attacks, including many fatalities, have increased with North American population growth and recreational intrusion into the wilderness. Most of the deadly attacks — 86 per cent — have occurred since 1960. In more than a third of those cases, improperly stored food or garbage likely attracted hungry bears. Which leaves almost two-thirds of cases unexplained.

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Getting better all the time – Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal Editorial (September 27, 2013)

Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal is the daily newspaper of Northwestern Ontario.

THE GLASS in Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario appears to be half-full and then some. Economic prospects are being touted, even on the once-dicey forestry front which is making a nice comeback after a recessionary bust. We will not see the same kind of forest industry any more. Instead, we will see advanced versions of traditional forestry and new ways to use trees. In a region where an estimated 60,000 jobs were lost to a perfect storm of economic, political and market challenges, any news of improvement is good news. There was some of that at a conference in Thunder Bay this week.

Where all but the hardiest pulp, paper and sawmills closed in the face of the 2008 recession, new growth is under way in innovations like biofuel. The Ontario generating station in Atikokan, for example, is being converted from coal to burn wood pellets and forestry in that region is rebounding to provide them.

The big pulp mill in Terrace Bay that thrived for years making traditional pulp for longtime owner Kimberly Clark’s Kleenex tissues, then closed, has been purchased by an Indian company that is converting it to produce dissolving pulp instead. The rayon ingredient is in high demand for textiles — everything from rayon to cellophane to tire cord — and specialty paper products like filters, among other products.

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Make up your minds [Thunder Bay generating station] – Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal Editorial (September 25, 2013)

Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal is the daily newspaper of Northwestern Ontario.

WITH the fate of the Thunder Bay Generating Station occupying so much public and political attention these days, the ongoing crisis situation at the Regional hospital is unfortunately being shunted aside on the political agenda. The issue of hospital crowding is much worse because it is potentially life-threatening whereas a decision on the generating plant, though needed now, can take time to carry out.

Both crises demonstrate government indecisiveness on multiple pressing issues.

Queen’s Park twice reversed itself on converting the Mission Island generating station from coal to gas and currently has the matter on hold again while it awaits an analysis by the Ontario Power Authority on how best to serve the electricity needs of the Northwest. The region will need significantly more power when a pending mining boom occurs and it takes time to build transmission capacity.

Here, too, the province is dawdling on the central theme of how to get ore out of the Far North to processing plants. A legal tussle over whether it should be a road or a railroad needs provincial intervention on behalf of the entire region which stands to receive a major economic jolt once mining begins. Instead, the province is waiting and seeing while the lead company warns it is running out of time.

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Economic potential Northwestern Ontario – by Matt Vis (tbnewswatch.com – September 25, 2013)


Economic prospects for Northwestern Ontario are looking strong, say experts attending the fourth annual Prosperity Northwest conference.

The event, a one-day forum and trade show, was hosted by the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce at the Valhalla Inn Wednesday and featured speeches from business executives as well as a collection of business exhibits.

François Lecavalier, vice-president of acquisitions and partnerships in the mining and metallurgy department of Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin, was one of the invited speakers. Lecavalier addressed the divisive Ring of Fire development and stressed the need for all parties to be operating on the same page.

“The Ring of Fire has the potential to help economic growth in Canada and Ontario over the next decades, but it won’t happen if there isn’t the necessary infrastructure to get the resources out,” Lecavalier said prior to his presentation.

“This will only happen if there is real partnership between the mining companies, both levels of government and the First Nations communities.

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