Another blow to Forest Roads Program

saying1 “The Provincial Forest Roads Program which was designed to benefit all Ontarians as the road infrastructure is used by all industries and the general public to both work and recreate in our great Crown forests.” 

Why then, does the Minister allow his District Managers to close these roads to the general public at their discretion?????

 

Media Release   As published in the Chapleau Express   10 May 2014

May 6, 2014                                                                                                            

 Liberal government’s 24% reduction to Ontario’s Forest Roads Program – Reckless

 The Ontario Forest Industries Association (OFIA) was shocked to learn on May 1st that Premier Wynne’s 2014 budget was drastically cutting funding to an effective infrastructure program that creates jobs and supports local communities.   The 24% reduction to the Provincial Forest Roads Program will negatively impact hard working families, most notable small, independent contractors in Northern and Rural Ontario. 

 

Jamie Lim, President and CEO of the OFIA commented, “The lack of warning from the Liberal government in particular the Northern Ministers is irresponsible.  As recently as February, member companies of the OFIA were informed by government that this infrastructure program would be maintained at 2013 levels. The late notice of reduced funds creates business uncertainty for Ontario’s forest product sector and puts into jeopardy planned road work and jobs.”

 

She went on to say, “This is a Crown roads program administered by the forest products sector to build and maintain Crown roads in Ontario. The recovery is happening now.  Putting Ontario’s wood back to work is happening now and the sector needs good public access roads now.”

 

The Government’s Budget document and recent announcements by Premier Wynne have acknowledged that investing in transportation infrastructure creates jobs, supports local economies and contributes to the provincial prosperity. 

 

“The budget talked a lot about investing in “modern infrastructure” in the GTA like transit systems.  Premier Wynne doesn’t seem to understand that in Northern and Rural Ontario modern infrastructure is building and maintaining good primary and secondary forest roads that are the foundation for a natural resource economy,” added Lim.

 

Lim added, “This is reckless action at a time when markets and the primary sector are recovering. Companies need business certainty as well as a government with a vision that supports today’s innovative renewable 21st century forest products sector. This government does not seem to recognize that you cannot have a value added sector without a vibrant primary sector.”

 

“Since the beginning of 2014, signs of a real rebound within the sector have been encouraging. OFIA’s member companies have announced restarts and investments into new projects throughout the province. And yet, Minister Sousa’s budget had less than 50 words about Ontario’s renewable forest products sector,” stated Christine Leduc, OFIA’s Director of Policy and Communications.

 

Lim concluded by saying, “This meant real work for small Northern and Rural businesses and their employees and we will continue to work constructively with Northern and Rural stakeholders and government to restore this critical infrastructure program.”

 

With a June 12th Provincial election on the horizon, the OFIA will actively engage all candidates to ensure that their plan supports the full potential of Ontario’s renewable forest products sector and the 150,000 hardworking families in over 260 Northern and Rural communities.

 

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Page 1 of 2

(Please see Backgrounder information on page 2)

Backgrounder

 

 

  • In 1994, with the implementation of the Crown Forest Sustainability Act (CFSA), the Government of Ontario downloaded the cost of road construction and maintenance to the forest products sector

 

  • In 2005 a Minister’s Council on Forest Sector Competitiveness was developed by the Minister of Natural Resources to address the uncompetitive nature of Ontario’s forest products sector

 

  • The Minister’s Council acknowledged that many of the roads being built and maintained by the forest industry “are public access roads, used by tourists, campers, hunters, other industries like hydro and mining, and other users”

 

  • The Minister’s Council recommended that “the provincial government assume its proportional share of the costs of building and maintaining the public access road network in provincial Crown forests”.

 

  • The Provincial Forest Roads Program, which has been fully utilized since it began in 2005, previously provided $75 million per year for the construction and maintenance of public access roads across Northern and Rural Ontario.  Despite its proven value to all users of public forests and provincial lands, the Liberal government is cutting the program to $38 million in 2014.

 

  • OFIA understands the need for everyone to contribute to provincial debt reduction, but does not understand the lack of support for Crown forest infrastructure just as the sector is poised for a full recovery.  The program was reduced in 2011 by more than 36% which was the largest cutback in MNR’s budget that year.  And now to have another significant cut to the program really sends the wrong message to investors and certainly jeopardizes jobs.

 

  • The Government’s 2014 Budget document and recent announcements by Premier Wynne (April 28, 2014) have acknowledged that investing in transportation infrastructure creates jobs, supports local economies and contributes to the provincial prosperity
  • The Provincial Forest Roads Program which was designed to benefit all Ontarians as the road infrastructure is used by all industries and the general public to both work and recreate in our great Crown forests.
  • 2014 contracts between the industry and small, independent contractors were entered into in good faith earlier in the year based on an understanding that the program would be maintained at the 2013 level. Now companies will be making final decisions regarding the cancellation of agreements and contracts to accommodate the current and unexpected reductions to the program, which will mean job losses.

 

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

 

Jamie Lim, President  & CEO – OFIA                                                                       Phone: 416-368-6188

Christine Leduc, Director of Policy and Communications – OFIA                    Phone: 416-368-6188

 

Is Ontario’s forest products sector building a greener future with the greenest workforce? For answers to this question and more, visit ofia.com and read OFIA’s Recovery hat-trick document: The World Needs Wood.

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Bill Gunn May 12, 2014, 8:21 am

    I am one of those cottagers who has had all the forest roads (4) to his cottage lose the maintenance because the logging companies stopped cutting. Last November the Whitman Dam road washed out severely and I wrote to MNR asking for help in restoring the road. Orazietti’s office wrote back eventually and said they did not maintain roads to crown land. This would seem to contradict the words of the Provincial Forest Roads Program above. Over 100 cottagers have lost the road access to their cottages and the MNR says that we should be happy we had access and not complain about not having it now. Other ministries I have written say the same thing…”not our mandate” It all comes back to the MNR. Only in Northern Ontario could over 100 cottagers lose their road access and the government says “Not in my mandate” . This is outrageous and should be rectifies immediately. Our government by it’s very democratic definition is supposed to represent the people who elected it. Do it now.

  • Zeke Marshall May 14, 2014, 5:06 pm

    Hello Bill,

    I had the same thing happen to my Property last year. I got my lawyer involved and the response that I received is you can maintain it anyway you like we are giving the road back to the land owners. (Why do I Pay Taxes) So I take care of about 10 Kms of road to have access but last time I checked it was illegal to land lock someone in Ontario so the whole thing confuses me. First of all Bill get your Prospecting license. By getting this 25.50 wonderful license (I am not actually being sarcastic) gives you the right to build and maintain roads on crown land without requiring contacting the MNR or getting a Work Permit as the Mining Act supersedes the Conservation Act. It is good for 5 years and you have to do an online test that is fairly easy and free.

    Please Bill contact me at ezekielmarshall@gamil.com and I will send you all the info.

    Thank you

    Zeke

    • Tym Barker May 15, 2014, 10:27 am

      Great information Zeke!

      I looked online and here is the link http://www.mndm.gov.on.ca/en/mining-act-awareness-program to the “Mining Act Awareness Program” that you need to take online. And here is the link http://www.forms.ssb.gov.on.ca/mbs/ssb/forms/ssbforms.nsf/FormDetail?OpenForm&ACT=RDR&TAB=PROFILE&SRCH=1&ENV=WWE&TIT=prospector&NO=019-0220E to the application for an Ontario prospector’s licence.

      • Zeke Marshall May 20, 2014, 1:45 pm

        Thank you Tym.

      • Bill Gunn May 20, 2014, 11:30 pm

        I believe that you have to actually stake a claim, maintain the claim and apparently do some amount of dollar value on the claim before you can take advantage of that clause on road work. Also the road must lead to your claim.. Check it out if you have the regs.

        • Zeke Marshall May 21, 2014, 8:43 am

          Hello Bill you are absolutely correct but there is a loophole. If you own your mineral rights it is considered a claim and workable as long as you have your prospecting license. If you own the mineral rights you do not have to do all the assessment work as well and there is a lot less paperwork. If you only own the surface rights you need to see if anyone else has them or if the crown posses the mineral rights and if the crown has it stake it immediately. This will protect you on numerous fronts. As soon as you do this it is considered a workable claim since you own the surface rights. You first stake your 4 corners cut Claim lines and do an assessment. In a year you need to spend I think it is around 600 due the assessment work then fill out the form through Northern Mines and you actually get the money back on your taxes.

          I use this with the properties I have since I already own the mineral rights. The MNR has not been allowed to interfere and if they do I get to back Charge the MNR up to 300 per day for lost time which Northern Mines enforces and forces them to pay for impeding my prospecting. This will allow you to work on any Crown Land leading to your claim. If you do not have the minerals all you need to do is find out if any of the properties come with it. If it is an unorganized Township you cannot go through the municipality you have to go through Northern Mines. If you need someone to look at them for you contact me as I am registered and I can find out this info. The easiest way is to e-mail or call me and my info is on OntORA . If you need any assistance I will see what I can do but unfortunately you and the other cottagers may have to do the work or hire someone to do it. I don’t agree with this but the MNR will drag their heels on this issue as long as they can. They are not a helpful agency.

          Thank you

          Zeke

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