Thunder Bay

Pending cutback of MNR offices worries northern mayors

Some municipal leaders in the northwest are concerned about plans to cut the number of Ministry of Natural Resources district offices.

Having a local presence is important for resource management, northern mayors say

Some municipal leaders in the northwest are concerned about plans to cut the number of Ministry of Natural Resources field offices.

Richard Harvey, the mayor of Nipigon, said an MNR district office in his community is a must.

Nipigon Mayor Richard Harvey (CBC)

"When we're dealing with issues that are taking place in this area — to have people who are local, to have people who are here … means we can more efficiently plan [and] work our forest."

Atikokan Mayor Dennis Brown agreed, and said it's important to have the MNR in his community, especially with the rehabilitation of the Steep Rock Mine.

Natural Resources Minister Michael Gravelle said there will be fewer Ministry staff in fewer locations over the next three years. He said it's too early to say which offices will be affected.

"Those discussions have not yet taken place," Gravelle said. "I will say we do expect to have a smaller staff complement that will be operating in fewer places across the province, [but] there will continue to be a very strong presence in northern Ontario."

Gravelle noted the ministry must alter the way it does business — because its current operating costs are not sustainable.