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Mayors call for Northern summit

Tuesday, September 10, 2013   by: Darren Taylor

Sault Ste. Marie Mayor Debbie Amaroso is calling for a Northern Ontario summit between herself, the Mayors of the four other large Northern Ontario communities, and elected officials and staff of provincial government ministries that deal with Northern issues.

The call for such a summit comes in a document compiled by Amaroso and the Mayors of Thunder Bay, Sudbury, Timmins and North Bay and arose from meetings held at the recent Association of Municipalities Ontario (AMO) Annual Conference in Ottawa.

The document, entitled Priorities: Linking Municipalities and the Growth Plan for Northern Ontario, is dated August 20 and calls for a Northern Ontario summit within 90 days of that date and the development of ongoing consultation and activities related to discussion of Northern issues.

Regarding that 90 day time frame, Amaroso told after Monday's City Council meeting: "We didn't want to leave it open ended."

"There's nothing set, but there is a sense of urgency about it."

"We hope to have a meeting sooner rather than later," Amaroso said.

The August document names a new collaborative relationship with Queen's Park recognizing Northern Ontario's importance to the province, infrastructure, energy costs for businesses, workforce development, investment in research and innovation and fair revenue sharing for the North as six priorities.

Amaroso said Premier Kathleen Wynne's announcement of a new Northern Ontario caucus during a cabinet visit to Sault Ste. Marie March 1 has helped set up a framework for a much-needed fresh recognition and commitment to discussion of Northern Ontario's priorities.

"She understands how resource rich we are and how we can contribute to the success of Ontario."

"We are saying let us (Northern Ontario cities) be a part of your Northern Ontario caucus."

"We have much to offer," Amaroso said, pointing to ambitious future plans to develop the Ring of Fire region in Northwest Ontario and the hoped-for deep-water port for Sault Ste. Marie.

"We're 57 percent of Ontario's population, 64 percent of municipal expenditures, and represent 59 percent of of municipal infrastructure."

"Northern Ontario is a force that needs to be reckoned with and we play a role in the success and development of this province," Amaroso said, noting that once robust manufacturing communities such as London and Windsor have seen better days. 

Out of the six priorities listed in the document, Amaroso said she considers infrastructure, including construction of the deep-water port, the biggest priority for Sault Ste. Marie.

The ending of connecting link funding (connecting links being 24 kilometres of vital commercial roads that lead in, through and out of Sault Ste. Marie), abruptly announced by the province early this year, remains a problem, Amaroso said.

Municipal taxpayers are now on the hook for maintenance of those roads, pushing other vital road maintenance projects further down the list.

Transportation Minister Glen Murray visited Sault Ste. Marie in July and announced infrastructure funding for smaller, rural communities in Algoma, but would only say the government is working on road funding for "medium-sized hubs" like Sault Ste. Marie.  

Amaroso said: "The Minister is aware of the need and we continue to push the issue."

Regarding revenue sharing, Amaroso said she appreciates the role funding envelopes like the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) play in Sault Ste. Marie and the rest of the North, but added: "Northern Ontario needs a bigger slice of the pie, especially as the Ring of Fire develops," adding that fair and equitable revenue sharing is something the North has not had in 20 years.

The release of the August 20 document stems from two days of meetings in May, in which Mayor Amaroso and Chief Administrative Officer Joe Fratesi met in Sault Ste. Marie with their counterparts from Thunder Bay, Sudbury, North Bay and Timmins  to formulate a Northern-focussed policy paper to be put forward to the provincial and federal governments.  

Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
Pakadeva 9/10/2013 11:48:28 PM Report

Awesome plan to Northerners & our needs back on track!
Grace 9/11/2013 6:53:36 AM Report

Wow the Sault is the hub of political initiatives!

Mayors Summit upcoming and the SSMAR is hosting the Northeastern Regional Ratepayers Association Conference September 21st.

While others talk the Sault is ready to go!

Grace 9/11/2013 7:11:30 AM Report

I've been doing some research (Google) Undies...I thought I'd copy and paste this for you. I have not been able to find any references to anyone doing a Municipal Representatives Performance Review...this is very exciting...from a political junkie stand point! Adding to the excitement is that Northeastern Regional Association of Ratepayers will be executing this in multiple cities.

This part of the release is right up Mayor Deb's alley "Your City Your Say"

"This public open house September 12 will also serve to gather survey questions related to local community direction act as an informational guide to council focus on what the municipal ratepayers deem of importance regarding core services and other topics after the 2014 municipal election."

Revolutionary I tell ya...revolutionary!

theprotector 9/11/2013 8:18:52 AM Report

Debbie could care lessaobut jobs in the sault, what a phoney
Grace 9/11/2013 9:11:01 AM Report do you figure that?
Grace 9/11/2013 9:12:10 AM Report

As mayor what can she do?
Prometheus 9/11/2013 9:12:13 AM Report

What does this statement in the article mean?

"We're 57 percent of Ontario's population, 64 percent of municipal expenditures, and represent 59 percent of of municipal infrastructure."
Snowdon 9/11/2013 9:38:10 AM Report

Seems pretty self-explanatory.
wakeup 9/11/2013 9:49:06 AM Report

This mayor is such a phoney, just like her past ,all she has ever done is learn the ins an outs so she can spew out what other want to here, she , like her last job in which she was invisible, will pretend to give a crap, but as for the people na, she figured out how to cater to the right people an used it to get where she is now , its funny how always this talk about making our area better, yet in the last thirty years what has ever been done, taxes go up an no jobs, our gas prices are no less then 10 cents more then any where else, go to any store an look at what there is compared to the same stores east of us, an not only are many products not available but cost more, this claim of transportation is bull, as every company has to pass through here to get their products out there anyhow way past giving a crap
Grace 9/11/2013 10:14:54 AM Report

And again...what has the mayor to do with this??
B Boy 9/11/2013 12:40:17 PM Report

Perhaps I'm still too tired from pumping water out of my basement and am reading this wrong, but Amaroso is claiming that Northern Ontario is 57% of the Ontario population?
N ON population: 732,914 as of 2011
ON population: 13,505,900 as of 2012

Maybe my math is off, but isn't that 5% of the Ontario population?

wakeup 9/11/2013 3:13:30 PM Report

hey dont diss the city an its gang, they are never wrong,, we are 57% of ontario pop, lmao, ya umm 70 thousand , couple city blocks in Toronto lol
Pakadeva 9/12/2013 11:55:23 PM Report

Diss our mayor all you want, however, the "majority" voted her in, meaning the "majority" believes in her! She didn't get the position via a handful of nay sayers on Saulttoday.
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