Well, another week has come and gone and there are many economic stories bubbling around northern Ontario and even farther afield with implications for northern Ontario. For example, this morning's Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal reported on upcoming talks between the forest sector and the federal government on preparing for the upcoming Canada-US softwood lumber negotiations. However, little information was provided in the story as to what strategy options are being explored as Canada moves into negotiations with the Trump administration on this file.
Stakes high for forestry sector, Chronicle-Journal March 19th, 2017.
The policies of the Trump administration will soon also be front and center with respect to environmental funding dealing with the Great Lakes. The budget proposed in the United States has put forth rather large cuts to program spending and one area that will have a direct impact on northern Ontario is what seems to be the complete elimination of $300 million dollars annually for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative with plans shifting the responsibility onto state and local governments. See:
Canadian politicians outraged at Trump Great Lakes funding cuts. The Globe and Mail, March 17th, 2017.
In brighter news, while northern Ontario reports the lowest optimism when it comes to construction activity in the Ontario Construction Secretariat 2017 Construction confidence Indicator, it is nevertheless up from 2016 and part of that optimism is due to a number of post-secondary construction projects in Sudbury and North Bay at Laurentian University and Canadore College. However, the Trump effect is again rearing its head here as: "Despite the boost in overall confidence, nearly half of the 500 contractors surveyed report they expect the Donald Trump presidency to have a negative or harmful effect on Ontario’s economy and construction industry. This sentiment is most acute in Windsor-Sarnia where 59 per cent of respondents believe Trump’s government will harm Ontario’s economy." See:
Post-secondary projects generate optimism in North Bay, Sudbury-survey. North Bay Nugget, March 16th, 2017.
In business activity and expansion news:
Explor Resources starts drilling program on Timmins-area property. Northern Ontario Business. March 16th, 2017.
Prime Gelato makes the leap to grocery stores and restaurant menus in Thunder Bay. CBC News. March 17th, 2017.
U.S. Coast Guard ready to break ice from Duluth to Thunder Bay. CBC News. March 15th, 2017.
Seminar offered to help local firms export to the U.S. Saultonline. March 14th, 2017.
When it comes to civic issues and municipal government, a couple of items. The urban renewal legacy of the 1970s haunts us still. In Thunder Bay, they are revisiting the future of Victoriaville Mall. In the 1970s, both the north and south downtowns in Thunder Bay (corresponding to the old cities of Port Arthur and Fort William) received urban renewal makeovers that in the long run were less than successful. The Keskus Mall in downtown Port Arthur was eventually demolished to make way for the Casino but Victoriaville which was built right on the main downtown intersection and permanently affected traffic patterns lingers on and apparently costs the City of Thunder Bay $500,000 annually. Victoriaville hit tough sledding right off the bat in the recession of the early 1980s as its anchor store -the Chapples family store - went under. Keskus did not lose its major retail anchor until the late1990s when Eaton's went under.
Thunder Bay city council considers step towards Victoriaville mall demolition. CBC News. March 15th, 2017.
And in Sudbury, the big municipal fiscal issue is the contentious reorganization of its fire and paramedic services with a big meeting slated for March 21st. For my take on the issue and links to some of the news stories, see my earlier blog post here.
In Sudbury mining news, see:
Vale to mothball century-old Ontario nickel mine. Mining.com. March 13th, 2017.
It is also Federal budget week with the budget coming down March 22nd and we will have to see what emerges specifically geared towards northern Ontario. For my contribution to federal budget debate this week, see here. Have a great week.