Municipalities looking for progress
By press release
Oct. 22, 2013 - Northern Ontario municipalities are increasingly concerned about the lack of progress between environmental groups and the forestry sector in Northern Ontario, particularly as discussions elsewhere have led to agreements. The breakdown in talks has caused increased uncertainty for Ontario's forestry sector, and the Province's leadership is needed immediately to protect the viability of resource development in Ontario, according to FONOM, the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities.
"We continue to call on the Premier, or the Ministers of Northern Development and Mines or Natural Resources to show leadership and get the stakeholders to the table. It is clear that this can't work if it's just the environmental groups and the industry. Municipalities, aboriginal groups, workers and the province need to be part of the plan," explained Spacek. "The Boreal Forest is our home. It is also our livelihood. No one understands better the need for sustainable forest management and harvesting than we do. Without it – we live in a vast empty space, environmentally and economically."
Since 2006, the forestry sector in Canada has taken a downturn, a result of the international economic crisis. Production levels dropped to their lowest since 1976. The recovery, however, has been timid. According to Statistics Canada, the lumber production decline in Ontario was of 62 per cent. From a peak in 2006 of 9.2 million cubic meters of wood production, to 2.8 in 2012 - there has been no recovery in Ontario.
"So far, the province of Ontario has avoided taking a leading role on this issue, waiting instead for the outcomes of the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement negotiations. These have been stalled since May. It's time for political action," said Spacek. "We believe a fully inclusive meeting, with the Premier and or relevant Ministers at the table, is the best way forward."
FONOM is urging the Province to review previous collaborative efforts that brought together diverse stakeholders to discuss northern issues as a potential model to be considered by the Province.
"We know the provincial government is capable of bringing stakeholders together and creating conditions for negotiations to balance the needs and interests of all involved to create a positive outcome. What we need now is the government's commitment to act now, before any further harm is felt by northern communities," Spacek added.