The Proposed Growth Plan for Northern Ontario was loaded onto the Environmental Registry on October 23, 2009.

The Places to Grow Act, 2005 received royal assent on June 13, 2005. This Act provides that the government may designate the geographic area of the province as a growth plan area and may develop a growth plan for that area. Ontario Regulation 416/05, as amended designated Northern Ontario as the second part of the province for which a growth plan would be developed. For the purposes of the Plan, Northern Ontario is more or less defined as the part of Ontario north of Parry Sound and Huntsville.

The Plan examines the economy of the North and provides an Action Plan for specific sectors of the economy. In the case of mining, the Plan proposes that:

  • Ontario strengthen its position as a leading global mining jurisdiction, maintain its competitive edge and pursue growth in a Northern mining cluster;
  • there be investment in research and innovation and that Ontario implement "green" mining initiatives to improve energy efficiency and sound environmental management;
  • mine development be linked with regional infrastructure planning;
  • incentives be provided to stimulate exploration investment in Ontario; and
  • the Mining Act be amended to ensure environmentally sustainable mineral developments stewardship while supporting aboriginal participation in the mineral sector and increasing timeliness and clarity of the regulatory process.

In the case of forestry, the Plan for Action proposes:

  • new forest tender and pricing system to provide for more equitable access to forest resources;
  • creation of a Forestry Cluster Council to support collaboration among industry, labour, communities, aboriginal people with other forestry and government organizations; and
  • innovations to advance forest health, regeneration and new products.

The Plan anticipates the expansion of electricity transmission capacity to support future growth. Proposed are more opportunities for "green" energy with a specific focus on aboriginal participation and new renewable energy and transmission projects through the guaranteeing of up to 75% of an aboriginal community’s equity share in a project.

There is also a focus on agriculture and aquaculture. The Plan of Action anticipates:

  • the increase of farm and aquaculture production;
  • the creation of district agricultural development plans identifying land improvement needs;
  • improvements in regional storage and processing infrastructure; and
  • new markets and research

Tourism and culture are a key part of the Northern Ontario economy. Measures are proposed to implement a comprehensive northern tourism development strategy and to facilitate partnerships to strengthen the Northern Ontario tourism experience.

The Plan recognizes that investment is required. The Plan proposes the development and implementation of a Northern Investment Strategy in consultation with business, communities and aboriginal groups. Initiatives for improvement in health services, education and the establishment of a Northern Research Policy Institute are key the elements of the Plan.

The Plan recognizes the significant role of aboriginal communities and proposes actions for the purpose of benefitting aboriginal communities, and connecting and strengthening northern communities. This also will require improvements in transportation infrastructure which will require investment in highways, water transportation services, rail and air transportation services.

All of these initiatives are to take place in the context of heightened awareness and implementation of policies for the purpose of ensuring improved environmental stewardship. Growth plan development strategies will take into account environmental impacts and the ecological values of Northern Ontario. Measures will be required to protect and preserve air and water quality and support green energy development as well as adaptation to climate change.

Comments on the Plan can be made up until February 1, 2010.

For further information please see: https://www.placestogrow.ca/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=109&Itemid=78