Northern Economist 2.0

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Thunder Bay Taxis Stories: The High Cost of Cabs

Well, trying to take a taxi in Thunder Bay can be a bit of a challenge.  Several winters ago, a couple of hours before our flight out we called for a cab and it just did not seem to be arriving.  In the end, we had to drive and park our own vehicle at the airport which had not been our original intention. When we discussed the matter with the company, they mentioned it was mid-afternoon and a lot of their cabs were on “school runs” so it would be best to call the night before to book a cab to ensure a ride.  It turns out a lot of the business for cab companies in Thunder Bay is from the broader public sector – schools, social agencies etc…which limits their incentive to provide more and more  immediate availability for private sector clients. 

Friday, 9 June 2017

Economic News Around the North: June 9th Edition

Here are the stories over the last little while that I feel are of economic importance to northern Ontario.  Summer is on the way and there is a definite slowdown in defining economic news as everyone starts heading out to camp for the summer. Tourism is going to be a sector of continuing importance to northern Ontario and camp development should be part of tourism development and infrastructure.  Making more camp/cottage lots available for development would certainly be one way of adding to tourism in northern Ontario.
Here is another piece of tourism infrastructure along the north shore of Lake Superior.

Lake Superior Water Trail connects explorers to northern Ontario. CBC News. Sudbury, June 9, 2017.

Of course, tourism development does not always have positive benefits for everyone as this historical example of northern Ontario tourism exploitation illustrates.

Speaking of infrastructure, there is a glitch in the US Soo locks rebuild.  See here.

It was mining day in Thunder Bay recently and there was another mining show in Timmins.  These events are good showcases for the sector.  The Timmins mining exposition was a 3 day event with 400 exhibitors.

Mining Day in Thunder Bay.  Northern Ontario Business. June 1, 2017.

Miners, investors flock to The Big Show. Northern Ontario Business, June 7, 2017.

In terms of developing the northern Ontario economy, another call for some type of tax incentive program from City Council in Sault Ste. Marie.  There was also a harkening back to the Peterson government of the late 1980s with a call more more government office relocation.  I suppose it would not be too tongue-in-cheek to suggest that the Ontario government simply sell all of its land in Toronto - at current sky high prices - use the proceeds to pay off its debt and then relocate the entire Ontario legislature and civil service somewhere in northern Ontario.  Of course the competition among the big 5 northern Ontario cities would be cutthroat so Wawa might have to be the compromise location.  Perhaps they could make the decision as part of a lottery or gaming experience run by OLG.

Of course, if all else fails there is the inevitable fallback to better marketing.  North Bay seems to be going in this direction with its municipal government handing a million dollars to its arms-length municipal economic development agency. 

In northern Ontario institutional news, there is a commission studying provincial ridings and representation in the far part of northern Ontario.  Some think the commission is thinking of splitting the Timmins-James Bay riding in two to provide better representation to indigenous communities. Will be interesting to see what the commission reports back.

Well, that is it for now. Have a great weekend. 

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Thunder Bay Community Foundation Awards Night 2017

The Thunder Bay Community Foundation held its 2017 Scholarship and Bursary Reception at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery this evening and it was an exciting and very well attended event.

I served on the Foundation Board from 2007 to 2010 and this evening was an opportunity to reconnect with the Foundation and its activities. The Foundation was established in 1971 with a gift from Prue Morton and has gone on to build a substantial endowment that funds a program of community grants including a set of scholarship and bursaries to students from Thunder Bay and tnorthwestern Ontario.  This year, thanks to the generosity of many donors over the years, the Foundation was able to present $66,900 in scholarships and bursaries to students in Thunder Bay and the District of Thunder Bay.  

Congratulations to all of this year's recipients and best wishes for an exciting future!