Island mayors, reeves say they’re pleased with announced resource sharing funding

NORTH BAY – Several Manitoulin Island municipal leaders agree with the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) in voicing their support of new infrastructure funding that is being provided to municipalities in Northern Ontario. The provincial government has announced that it is sharing resource extraction revenues with Northern Ontario municipalities for infrastructure.

“New provincial funding is always good news for municipalities,” stated Ian Anderson, mayor of Billings Township. “I understand all 144 municipalities in Northern Ontario will be receiving funding, which is good. And I’m happy with what is coming our way and that we will have additional funds for infrastructure.”

“Definitely it’s good news; we didn’t plan on this funding,” said Gore Bay Mayor Dan Osborne. 

Ken Noland, reeve of the Township of Burpee and Mills, said, ‘’we welcome any funding that helps with infrastructure.”

“It’s certainly good news that this funding is going to all municipalities in Northern Ontario,” stated Al MacNevin, mayor of the Town of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands (NEMI). “I’m not sure what we are going to apply our funding to, but it won’t be difficult to find infrastructure projects that need to be done. And with the funding being provided for multiple years, municipalities can plan projects for a few years and the funding can by piggy backed from year to year. It’s certainly good news.”

“We’re very pleased with the provincial announcement,” stated Danny Whalen, president of FONOM, in an interview with The Expositor on Wednesday of last week. “The president of the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association (NOMA), Wendy Landry, and I had spent a lot of time with ministry staff discussing and providing input into this.”

“When the government announced it is providing $15 million dollars a year in funding for five years, this is new funding, which is being provided to municipalities in the North as a share of resource extraction revenues,” said Mr. Whalen.

Greg Rickford, Ontario’s Minister of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry, made the announcement of funding on Wednesday of last week. This new revenue-sharing arrangement will see funding dispersed to municipalities to help offset costs associated with repairing and maintaining local infrastructure impacted by resource operations.

“This funding is very welcome,” Mr. Whalen said in a release. “It will help communities address their impacted road networks,” noting that FONOM was grateful to be involved at the onset of this new funding opportunity. “We were pleased to work with ministry staff and provide input in the development of this new funding stream.”

FONOM and many of its member municipalities have lobbied successive governments for this type of funding arrangement. The extraction of resources from Northern Ontario drives a large part of the economic engine for the province and communities throughout the North. There are, however, impacts on municipal infrastructure, such as roads, when resources are moved through a community.

The Ontario government is providing $15 million annually to Northern municipalities to help support infrastructure projects over the next five years. The new Northern Ontario Resource Development Support (NORDS) Fund will share the benefits of mining and forestry with municipalities and complement existing funding streams for building infrastructure.

“Our government is delivering on our commitment to share the benefits of resource development with Northern municipalities,” said Greg Rickford, minister of NDMNRF in a press release. “Northern communities face unique realities, as do the industries and sectors that drive our Northern economy. Programs such as NORDS are central to our vision for building strong Northern communities, supporting economic development, and creating optimum conditions for businesses to thrive, grow and create good jobs.” 

Minister Rickford explained that municipalities will determine the local projects to which the resource funding will be applied. Municipalities will be able to stack the funding for three years, allowing them to tackle larger projects.

Manitoulin Island municipalities and the funding they will be provided each year include: Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands, $129,715; Central Manitoulin, $114,493; Killarney $83,762; Assiginack, $81,309; Billings, $76,836; Gordon/Barrie Island, $75,574; Gore Bay $66,051; Tehkummah, $64,103; Burpee and Mills, $62,697; Cockburn Island, $53,427.