FONOM meets, discusses strategy on key northern issues
The executive of the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) took the opportunity to discuss issues of Northern significance at their meeting held at the end of November in North Bay.
“We had full and frank discussions on a number of key issues we’ve been working on, including the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, the New Deal for the ONTC, Ontario Parks, and ATV licencing,” noted Alan Spacek, FONOM president.
The FONOM executive had a presentation on the Governance Review Process underway at NOSM.
“We heard that they are seeking a balance of skills and experience as well as demographic, cultural and geographic representation and wanted to hear from them what’s happening,” stated Spacek. “After their presentation, we urged the NOSM Board to ensure that both FONOM and the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association retain positions on the NOSM Board.”
Spacek continued: “We also had a presentation on Ontario Northland Transportation Commission and the New Deal for Northern Ontario from Roy Hains, Brian Kelly, Ron Marleau and Jay Aspin, MP for Nipissing-Timiskaming."
President Spacek explained that these presenters “spoke of the work being done to establish a James Bay and Lowlands Ports Authority to absorb the ONTC to be operated under the Canada Marine Act. The presenters are convinced that this Port Authority could save and create jobs in Northern Ontario. The creation of the new organization would mobilize the design and development of a rail link to the Ring of Fire discovery of chromium in the James Bay Lowlands. This would in turn promote a sustainable successor to the ONTC.”
President Spacek indicated that “FONOM is willing to be part of any solution to save the ONTC and that Mayor Tom Laughren of Timmins and first vice-president of FONOM will represent FONOM’s interests working with the ‘New Deal’ team.”
“We also had Vic Fedeli, MPP for Nipissing to the meeting to explain prorogation,” offered President Spacek. “Mr. Fedeli commented that regulations and the day to day business of government can be done without parliament sitting and noted that many vacancies on Provincial agencies, boards and commissions in the province are being filled during this hiatus by the government.”
President Spacek stated that the FONOM Executive also spoke at length about Park Closures across the north.
“Our members want us to save some of the North’s Provincial Parks. We have been pleased by the efforts of Minister Gravelle and his staff and are cautiously optimistic about what we’ve been hearing about a possible reversal on the decision to close several of the parks,” explained Spacek.
Finally, Alan Spacek spoke on the definition of all terrain vehicles.
“We received a letter from the minister of transportation concerning ATV’s. It was agreed that this correspondence be forwarded to the Provincial ATV Association, indicating that the current Highway Traffic Act is antiquated in relation to ATV’s and needs modernization related to ATV’s that are increasingly popular in Northern Ontario.”
Spacek concluded: “We want to work with all levels of government for the betterment of Northerners. FONOM is committed to giving voice to the needs of Northerners and Northern municipalities - with the Province, the federal government, with First Nations, and with other stakeholders.”