NOLUM calling for investment into northern communities to help unlock economic potential

Monday, May 27, 2024

Mayor Matthew Shoemaker hosted the mayors and chief administrative officers of North Bay, Sudbury, Thunder Bay and Timmins for a Northern Ontario Large Urban Mayors (NOLUM) meeting on Monday, May 27, 2024.
Recently released Statistics Canada data shows that NOLUM municipalities have experienced growth in the past five years. Given the north’s demographic situation that features an older population and lower birth rate, population growth is a positive development. 
“Northern municipalities have complex challenges that require solutions and support specific to our unique situation and NOLUM provides us with a louder voice resulting from our collective amplification. Our message is clear – we need increased support and we need it now,” said Ken Boshcoff, Mayor of Thunder Bay.
However, in order for the full economic potential of the north to be unlocked, support from the Governments of Canada and Ontario is required to address challenges that will only be exacerbated by increased population without accompanying assistance; including family physician shortages, affordable housing and the mental health and addictions crisis.
“We’re prepared to be productive partners in creating a more prosperous future for all of the north. With targeted financial support to help us address of the underlying health care and social services related challenges we’re facing, we will thrive,” said Michelle Boileau, Mayor of Timmins.
NOLUM is calling for the Government of Ontario to reassess the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund and Northern Ontario Resource Development Support Fund to better position northern municipalities to take advantage of provincial programming related to housing developments.
Increasing the housing supply – in particular, in terms of affordable options – represents a pressing concern that is expected to become increasingly precarious without additional support from both the Governments of Canada and Ontario. 
“Our communities are growing and we must ensure we’re ready to accommodate the population increase we’re experiencing now and expect to see in the coming years because, simply put, we need more people. The demographic composition of Northern Ontario requires a renewed labour force to ensure northern economic potential isn’t lost to the south, and more housing is a major piece of the puzzle,” said Paul Lefebvre, Mayor of Greater Sudbury.
“Housing projects in Northern Ontario often have tighter budgets as a result of higher development costs. Increased funding made available through the Housing Affordability Fund and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation represents a potential remedial measure,” said Peter Chirico, Mayor of North Bay.
NOLUM participated in a panel discussion for TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paikin during their time in Sault Ste. Marie. The mayors had the opportunity to discuss their meeting and respective communities.
“The TVO panel was a valuable opportunity for NOLUM to reach a large audience. We certainly have our challenges, but there are still so many positive aspects of living in the north for us to highlight,” said Matthew Shoemaker, Mayor of Sault Ste. Marie.”
“With quality of life a foremost priority for a growing number of people in a post-pandemic world, we have a lot to offer and significant potential that could be unlocked with assistance from our government partners.”
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