Northern Ontario Large Urban Mayors (NOLUM)
by Scott A. Sumner
The City of Thunder Bay hosted the members of NOLUM for a series of meetings on Friday, July 3 and Saturday July 4. Agenda topics included Building Ontario Up: Municipal Infrastructure, mining readiness, and climate adaptation.
I sat down with each Mayor to ask about their communities, their plans moving forward and impressions of Thunder Bay.
Mayor Al McDonald, North Bay
“ The dominant conversation today is around infrastructure and the provinces plan to invest record number of dollars and how that is shared. The municipalities need sustainable infrastructure money each and every year. It should not be based on an application, or begging
process if you will, but based on per capita. In North Bay it would go into critical capital work or economic development work that we currently have on the books but have no way of funding.”
“ North Bay has a population of 55,000 and the region with 20 minutes is 85,000. We are 3 hours from Toronto all with 4 lane highway.”
“ Thunder Bay is a beautiful community, very progressive. The citizens are very friendly and I am totally impressed. I will get a chance to see your marina today. We invested $30 million in North Bay and I understand you have invested over $100 million in your marina.
This is a beautiful part of the country.”
Mayor Steve Black, Timmins
“ Our major priority is our road infrastructure and our connecting link through the community which is a $50 to $70 million project. We are also looking at a multiuse recreation centre as well, starting with an aquatic complex and then economic development to improve
rail lines and infrastructure to access some of the mineral developments in our region.”
“Thunder Bay is a very impressive community and the Mayor has done a great job hosting us and providing feedback on what is going on here.”
“ We are a population of 45,000 and just under 3000 square kilometers in area. Mining is our main contributor and forestry is second.We are a 8 hour drive from Toronto or 1 1/2 flight.”
Steve is 33 years old and the youngest mayor in Timmins history.
Mayor Christian Provenzano, Sault Ste. Marie
“ In Sault Ste Marie we want to bring our critical infrastructure up to date. Our electrical system need a lot of work. The basics of water, electricity and roads- we have to make sure we are doing a good job in those areas. We are also interested indeveloping some critical transportation links which is a economic development project. We are working on the Port of Algoma and becoming a key regional structure.”
“ Our economy is decent and we should expect some growth this year. The Essor Centre is a nice asset in S S Marie. We have a river that runs right through us and are near parks.”
“ I have enjoyed my time in Thunder Bay and your roads are in pretty good shape here.”
Mayor Brian Bigger, Sudbury
“ We have a number of projects in Sudbury. We are working on improvements to our east west corridor transportation. Over 50% of the ore extracted in Ontario goes through our community and it takes a toll on our roads. We have just had the coldest February in history.”
“ Our economy is growing slowly. Our new council is focused on economic development. We need to invest in our downtown urban core. The population of Sudbury is 160,000 and GDP is $5.5 billion with mining at $4 billion or over 60 % of of GDP.”
“ Thunder Bay continues to grow with lots of new investment here like the new hotel we are in today. This year our council held municipal taxes to a 0 % increase. Previously I was auditor Generalfor the City of Sudbury.”
Mayor Keith Hobbs, Thunder Bay
“ We try to rotate these meetings amongst cities so it was Thunder Bay’s turn this year. It is nice to have the 5 large major city Mayors here and talking about our issues which are similar. We have a very diverse agenda including MPAC and the climate. It is good to share strategies. We hope to put out a few position papers on mining readiness and other issues.”
“ The infrastructure fund recently announced is good and we want a piece of that pie. We are a very strong voice when we go together. In Thunder Bay we look after our infrastructure for the most part with an enhanced infrastructure program of $12 million year over year extra. We want funding for those major projects like the event centre and a new conservatory- that are huge projects. We will prioritize those projects for the next 10 years as a council.”