What the government is calling "a locally based task force in Northern Ontario" focusing on "transportation needs and opportunities in the region" includes no representatives from Timmins.
The 13 member Northern Task Force, made up of community-based leaders, "will examine ways to make it easier for people and goods to travel, while boosting economic growth in the north," reads a news release issued Friday morning.
“Our government understands that Northern Ontario has unique transportation needs that can make travelling between local communities more challenging for people, and we continue to take action to alleviate these challenges and make travel safer,” said Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation. “The Northern Task Force will ensure transportation plans reflect the diverse voices within the community and inform our government of the most important local needs.”
The task force includes representation from northern mayors, Indigenous chiefs and other business and transportation leaders from across the north, but not Timmins or the James Bay coast.
“Getting the north moving is a top priority for our government,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Northern Development. “Establishing the Northern Task Force is another critical step in our government’s plan to build a better transportation network for northern Ontarians. We are committed to improving transportation and infrastructure to support a stronger economy for the north.”
The task force members are:
Danny Whalen (Co-Chair): Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) president and City of Temiskaming Shores councillor
Wendy Landry (Co-Chair): Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association (NOMA) president and Municipality of Shuniah mayor,
Mayor Brian Bigger: Greater Sudbury mayor
Mayor Daniel Reynard: Kenora mayor
Mayor Dave Plourde: Kapuskasing mayor
Mayor Doug Lawrance: Sioux Lookout mayor
Mayor Johanne Baril: Municipality of Val Rita-Harty mayor and NorthEastern Ontario Municipal Association president
Grand Chief Ogichidaa Francis Kavanaugh: Grand Council Treaty #3, Kenora
Chief Melvin Hardy: Northern Superior Regional Deputy Grand Council Chief, Anishinabek Nation
Kevin Eshkawkogan: CEO of Indigenous Tourism Ontario, Manitoulin Island
Alan Spacek: Ontario Northland Transportation Commission chair, Kapuskasing
Charles Cirtwill: Northern Policy Institute president and CEO, Thunder Bay
Ron Bumstead: Bumstead Trucking owner, New Liskeard
Additional members may be added at a later date, according to the release.
“The Minister has heard the concerns of northerners with regards to transportation needs and the safety of our northern highways," said Whalen in the news release. "The quality of the people appointed to this Transportation Task Force ensure reasonable and responsible results.”
Whelan told BayToday that he wouldn't want to see the committee expanded past 15 members, and pointed out that Timmins also doesn't have a representative.