Tuesday, July 15, 2008

McGuinty's mining manifesto mystifies mayor

Timmins Mayor Tom Laughren says Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty’s “out of the blue” announcement about changes to the Mining Act, will present “huge challenges” to Northern Ontario.
On Monday, Premier McGuinty announced a plan to set aside roughly 225,000 sqaure kilometres of the boreal forest for permanent “protection” from such things as forestry and mining.
The land area is defined as the part of Ontario that is north of the 51st line of latitude. The De Beers new Victor Project diamond mine would fall into that area.
Laughren says he is not convinced it’s the best move for economic development of the north and is concerned that municipalities were not consulted.
“The premier is talking an awfully large area, especially an area that has a lot of potential for growth right now,” said Laughren.
“I haven’t seen his rationale for doing it other than I know there was a lobby group that has been lobbying for this,” he added.
In the announcement on Monday, McGuinty said there is a need to do things right. "Although the Northern Boreal region has remained virtually undisturbed since the retreat of the glaciers, change is inevitably coming to these lands. We need to prepare for development and plan for it. It's our responsibility as global citizens to get this right, and to act now," said the premier.
“This came right out of the blue. We had talked about the Mining Act and I was kind of led to believe through comments, I believe from the MNDM (Ministry of Northern Development and Mines) minister that this was not going to be opened,” Laughren recalled.
“You know creating this large tract of land in the boreal forest for carbon credits and that kind of stuff I think we have not had a lot of input from municipalities, from forestry companies, from mining companies, so I was a little bit taken aback today by it, sure.”
Laughren says it’s wrong to assume that land-use laws in the south can just as easily be applied in the North.
“There have been situations in the south where companies have gone in a destroyed the land, and of course, that upsets people. We seem to have a working relationship with companies in the North,” said the mayor. “To put us as the same as the south is going to have a huge challenge on Northern Ontario.”
Laughren says he has speaking with mayors of other large municipalities in the North such as Sudbury, North Bay and Sault Ste. Marie and a meeting is planned for the first week of August and he says the premier’s plan will be on the agenda.

No comments: