Kenora-Rainy River MPP Sarah Campbell saw 2017 as an exciting period of growth and renewal for Rainy River District.
“Both the New Gold mine starting production and the installation of the tbaytel 'Fibre' are very promising investments for residents of Fort Frances and the Rainy River District,” Campbell told the Times in an e-mail.
She said both investments will help strengthen the local economy, and provide more economic and personal opportunities to the people in the region.
“I am pleased that I was able to assist New Gold with bringing this project to fruition and look forward to the ongoing hope, opportunity, and wealth this project will bring to the Rainy River District upon this next phase,” Campbell added.
“There are so many factors that make Fort Frances and the Rainy River District an attractive place to live, work, and play, and the excitement that these recent investments have helped to create will serve to further attract more individuals and families to the area,” she remarked.
But Campbell also noted 2018 is a provincial election year, and how that will shape how certain things turn out.
“In terms of the provincial political cycle, 2017 was a year for Ontarians to give feedback to the Ontario government and to help identify some of the priorities going into the next election,” she explained.
Campbell said Ontario has seen the Liberals remain steadfast in their plans to sell off Hydro One, not address the systemic challenges of the Northern Health Travel Grant (NHTG) program, and not address the chronic and systemic issues associated with winter highway maintenance.
But she did see evidence they are listening and responding to pressure.
“Even though Ontarians have clearly rejected the Liberals' electricity mortgage scheme which will ensure rates are jacked up in a few years, their NHTG reforms have fallen short of providing the support northerners need, and the premier's plan to bring highway maintenance services back under provincial control and oversight is an election pledge, these changes signal a positive shift in political climate,” Campbell explained.
She said they serve as indications that northerners' priorities are being heard.
“The next step over these next few months is to keep these and other important issues on the radar of all three political parties in the lead-up to the June, 2018 election,” Campbell noted.
She encouraged residents to do this by engaging on issues via e-mails, letters, faxes, and petitions to the government.
“Many of the issues faced by residents of the Rainy River District are shared by residents of other areas of the Kenora-Rainy River riding,” Campbell said.
She listed affordable hydro rates, safe roads, health care that is there when northerners need it the most, safe and reliable inter-community transportation, seniors' housing, as well as the need for answers and justice for lost indigenous youth as common issues.
“I will continue to work hard on these and other issues important to constituents across the riding in the lead-up to the 2018 provincial election,” Campbell pledged.