Sault Ste. Marie MPP, Ross Romano issued the following statement surrounding his tour of First Nation communities to further progress on consultations regarding the Ring of Fire opportunities
The Ring of Fire is a REAL opportunity for Sault Ste. Marie and could possibly be the most significant economic development opportunity facing our community in that last several decades. This is an enormous mining project that will bring billions of dollars in economic activity to Northern Ontario and is often compared to the Oil Sands of Alberta. We are one of the final four cities being considered for a Ferrochrome Processing Facility (FPF). This one billion dollar facility will bring upwards of 2000 jobs to the Sault. The facility would take the mined ore from the Ring of Fire and reduce it into ferrochrome which would then be shipped to stainless steel manufacturers in the United States and Europe.
We have the necessary transportation infrastructure to have this facility built here. With access to air, rail, water, and major highways, the FPF is a natural fit for our community. We can become the economic engine of Northern Ontario by housing this facility and by further tapping into all the economic growth opportunities that the Ring of Fire development will bring.
We will never be able to realize these benefits without proper and meaningful consultation with all of the impacted First Nation communities. The Provincial Liberal government has had 11 years to move the needle on the consultation process and, despite their claims that they are trying to do this ‘the right way,’ they have failed these communities and they have failed us. It is for this reason that I decided I would visit these communities myself. My goal was to begin to develop positive relationships with their leadership in order to promote an environment for meaningful consultation if, in fact, I have that opportunity in the future.
I’ve just returned from a tour of Nibinamik, Webequie, Neskantaga and Eabametoong. These communities have no road access and can only be reached by plane or by winter road. I thought it was important for me to spend at least 24 hours in each community in order to gain an appreciation of the struggles they each face. The tour was very positive and provided me with incredible insight into a host of socio-economic and infrastructure challenges that I would not have been able to understand by simply reading a book or viewing a webinar. Their struggles are real and the challenges are unique from one community to the next.
The Liberal government has failed to properly recognize the needs of these communities. This has to change. All of Northern Ontario deserves more and these communities deserve to have the same level of opportunity as any other in our province.
An opportunity of this magnitude, which is truly within our reach, requires our community working together from a federal, provincial, and municipal level if we are capitalize on what is before us. We are a natural choice for the FPF and with a combined effort, we can repair and build relationships with all the other communities that will benefit from this incredible opportunity as well as bring real prosperity to Sault Ste. Marie and all of Northern Ontario. This time is now for a joint committee to be assembled that involves representation from all three levels of government as well as our economic development teams without further delay if we are to make the most of what stands before us.