Area chambers get ‘heard’

It was a chance to be heard by the federal and provincial governments, Fort Frances delegate Deb Ward said of the Northwestern Ontario Associated Chambers of Commerce annual meeting in Atikokan last week.
“We don’t like it when they make a decision on our livelihood without input,” Ward said Monday, noting the carte blanche elimination of the spring bear hunt was a perfect example.
In fact, NOACC passed a resolution officially objecting to the axing of the hunt based on the lack of public information and scientific evidence, as well as the lack of consideration for the economic impact removing the hunt would have on Northwestern Ontario businesses.
“We know it’s not going to put it back,” Ward said. “There’s nothing we can do about that.
“But we don’t want them to continue doing that to us–to systematically remove things that have no impact to southern Ontario but had a big impact to us,” she stressed.
Another resolution NOACC passed called on the government to initiate a long-term solution to businesses for products and services directly associated with the spring bear hunt.
“They compensated the bear outfitters but there was no compensation for the local economy,” Ward noted, saying other businesses, like grocery stores and souvenir shops, also lost out when the spring bear hunt was scrapped.
Other resolutions passed at the NOACC meeting included:
•to delete the PST on children’s clothing for those aged 14 and under to make it easier for Northwestern Ontario stores to compete with those in Manitoba (where the PST already is exempt on those items);
•the province should not have shifted the responsibility for social services to municipalities (money for such services should come from income tax, not property taxes);
•that the MNR share any documentation or research it has on eco-tourism to support the claim it is a viable option for the economy here;
•that the priority on repairs for Highway 502 be accelerated to meet the needs of traffic the border crossing rebuild here is expected to generate;
•to have gasoline volume standardized to the Canadian average temperature of six C on all pumps instead of 15 C, which is the American one (generating a savings of about $100,000 million per year for consumers);
•that the federal government and 10 provinces complete the project to make the Trans-Canada four lanes from coast-to-coast, as well as put multi-lane, high-speed corridors at the 11 major border ports as listed in the NAFTA Superhighway study;
•that the provincial government reinstate the infrastructure improvement program it used to do with municipalities;
•that the government of Ontario investigate ways of providing more investments in mining at remote communities, as well as the return of “flow-through shares” to the mining industry; and
•petitioning the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to allow municipal governments to collect a “bed” tax of one percent from hotels/motels to generate money specifically for tourism promotion.
In other news, Dick MacKenzie of Sioux Lookout was presented the Don Sanders Memorial Award of Excellence for his contributions to NOACC and his community.
Blair Hutchings of Kenora was named NOACC’s new president, with Jon Christianson of Thunder Bay as president elect, Michelle Showalter of Dryden as vice-president, and Paul Kyro of Geraldton as treasurer.
Vicki Kurz of Dryden takes over as past president, with Dr. George Macey (Marathon), John Taylor (Thunder Bay), Jack Mallon (Thunder Bay), and MacKenzie sitting as advisors.
Mallon also will double as the Ontario Chambers of Commerce Division 30 rep.