Mayors from Northern Ontario’s five largest cities gathered in North Bay on June 15 to discuss a series of northern issues during their Northern Ontario Large Urban Mayors (NOLUM) meeting.
Mayor Al McDonald was joined by Mayor Keith Hobbs, Thunder Bay, Mayor Steve Black, Timmins, Mayor Brian Bigger, Greater Sudbury, and Mayor Christian Provenzano, Sault Ste. Marie at the meeting where they held open and productive discussions on a number of northern issues including economic development, rising energy costs, FedNor funding, the Ring of Fire, and the impact of reimbursements from the Municipal Property Assessment Commission (MPAC).
“We were very encouraged by our discussions today,” said Mayor McDonald. “It’s important that we work closely together in our partnership to ensure smart and effective decisions and investments that will help to grow our local economies and protect the sustainability of Northern Ontario.”
One of the main concerns coming out of the meeting was the impact of rising energy costs on Northern Ontario.
“We are very concerned about the steadily rising cost of energy,” said Mayor Black. “As the cost of energy rises it becomes harder for businesses to remain competitive and less attractive for them to remain in our communities. We also have a large population on fixed income as well as an aging population that just can’t afford increasing electricity prices.”
While other provinces in Canada have found ways to move forward without cost increases transferred to industry and residents, Ontario energy prices keep increasing. According to the mayors, competitive energy rates are vitally important for residents and businesses in all of Ontario, not just Northern Ontario. The mayors are calling on the Ministry of Energy to pay immediate attention to the issue.
Concerns were also brought forward about the Municipal Property Assessment Commission (MPAC) assessment and appeal process.
“Recent changes to the assessment and appeal process are putting significant pressure on revenue streams from taxation, which is a critical issue for municipalities,” said Mayor Bigger.
The group is calling for a more stable and predictable source of revenue for municipalities. NOLUM will be putting a request through to the Association of Ontario Municipalities (AMO) to meet with the Ministry of Finance surrounding this issue.