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FONOM Speaks With One Voice On Provincial Legislation and Resource Sharing

Date published: 
Thursday, April 28, 2011

FONOM President Al Spacek has some important questions to ask on behalf of the people of Northeastern Ontario.  Spacek, Mayor of the Town of Kapuskasing, asks, “What do imposed Royalty Taxes on Diamonds, the Far North Act and the Caribou Conservation Plan have in common?”  The answer: they were based on limited consultation and little regard for the opinions of Northerners.

President Spacek revealed today that, “In this provincial election year, it is important that the FONOM board speak with one voice on behalf of the citizens of Northeastern Ontario, and concerns about resource sharing and legislative policy development that affects the North should be voiced, so that they directly benefit the taxpayers of the North.” 

Spacek notes “the Federal and Provincial Governments have gained considerably from Northern Ontario’s natural resources.  Federal and provincial corporate taxes have been on an overall upward trend with recent significant increases in tax revenues. This contrasts dramatically with the gradual decline in property tax revenues received by municipalities from the mining industry.”

Along with property tax revenue impact, many one-industry cities and towns in Northern Ontario also have to deal with a number of assessment appeals from large industrial/commercial taxpayers. At the present time, the total assessment risk of tax base loss to Northern Ontario municipalities with respect to these assessment appeals is in the tens of millions of dollars of assessment and further property tax revenue loss.

It is crucial to ensure that Provincial Policies and Legislation reflect the realities of Northern Ontario life to ensure that development is not inhibited. Currently, policy and legislation development are driven by the needs of Southern Ontario rather than Northern Ontario’s reality. Unlike Southern Ontario where growth management consists of trying to control rapid growth, the North needs a plan to accelerate growth. Documents such as the Places to Grow Act select winners and losers, based upon population density and neither upon equity nor social justice.

“Take Bill 151(the Local Forest Tenure Modernization Act)” says Spacek.  “It offers no flexibility and a 'one size fits all' approach that rarely works in the North because of wildly divergent circumstances to make any business enterprise work here. It assumes an untested business governance model that could be disastrous in the North,” explains Spacek, who goes on to state,  “with the lack of consultation in Northern Ontario - it seems that this legislation is being 'rushed through' to meet someone else’s needs, other than persons actually involved in the forestry industry.   Why were there no consultations in the North with either businesses or municipalities after the legislation was drafted?”

President Spacek, speaking on behalf of the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities argues “in order to ensure the continued wealth generation of Northern Ontario resources, the Province needs to ensure better management, development and control of Northern Ontario resources while providing sustainable revenue streams for municipalities to maintain and update local and regional infrastructure.   Northern municipalities want to see more equitable provincial-municipal revenue sharing of what is currently being collected.  This would allow municipalities to provide the infrastructure and services required by local residents and local industry. Such an arrangement will ensure that strong and fiscally sustainable communities continue to thrive in Northern Ontario now and in the future”.

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For more information, contact:

Al Spacek, President, Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities    Tel: (705) 335-0001

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