Main Sectors and Future Outlook
The Township has had a long, rich history in the mining and forestry sectors that still continue to play a significant role in the community’s economy. Presently, Ignace continues to position itself to benefit from the Ring of Fire mining development (the most promising mining development in Ontario in a century). Resolute Forest Products maintains a striving operation, while the tourism sector remains the staple of the community. Currently, public administration employs the largest percentage of workers, while accommodation and food services, retail trade, educational services, construction and transportation and warehousing round out the popular industries.
The Potential Selection for a Deep Geological Repository for Canada’s Used Nuclear Fuel
In 2007, the Canadian Government selected Adaptive Phased Management (‘APM’) as its strategy in addressing the long-term management of used nuclear fuel and the intended outcome of APM was the development of a deep geological repository for the used fuel. In 2010, the site selection process for choosing a location for the repository commenced. In its initial approach and as part of APM, NWMO sought out communities to be assessed on both technical as well as social factors. Beyond the specific site requirements, the site selection process uses the following guiding principles:
- Focus on safety;
- Selected an informed and willing host community
- Foster the long-term well-being of the host community
- Involve those who are potentially affected; and
- Respect Aboriginal rights, treaties, and land claims.
Based on information shared by the NWMO, the Township was the first community to communicate its intentions of potentially becoming the site for the repository and in 2011, the Township’s Mayor and Council formally requested the NWMO to initiate a Preliminary Assessment of the community’s potential suitability. Since declaring their intention to be a host for the used nuclear fuel repository, twenty other communities expressed an interest in being the host for the facility across Canada. Over the past eight years and at the time of this report, the site selection process has screened out sixteen communities and the Township continues to meet the criteria to remain as one of the final five sites.
According to the NWMO, the construction and operation of the repository represents an investment of $18 to $24 billion and as such, the impact of becoming the host community for the repository would appear to have the potential of being transformational for the Township as well as have a significant impact on the surrounding area. Based upon the estimated job creation by phase for the project, the Township and its surrounding area appear to be in a position to directly benefit. Beyond job creation, the NWMO has made a commitment to whichever community is selected as the site to ensure the long-term well-being of the community and will work with the selected community to ensure the community has what it needs to ensure the success of the project. The chart on the following page provides the annual estimated average annual employment to the area near Ignace as well as the Northwest economic region.
The Potential Ring of Fire development
The Ring of Fire is a large planning mining development located in the James Lowlands in Northern Ontario and according to Ontario’s Ministry of Northern Development and Mines (‘MNDM’), the Ring of Fire is “one of the most promising mineral development opportunities in Ontario in almost a century.” Given that, the Ring of Fire represents a significant opportunity to Northern Ontario. The Township has identified this project as one where the Township has the potential to benefit. Based on information shared by the Township, the Township believes that it has the potential to benefit from the Ring of Fire because of its proximity to Highway 599. Highway 599 is a stretch of the provincial highway network that ends in the Township of Pickle Lake and as part of the Ring of Fire development, the Province of Ontario has pledged its support in the extension of the highway to connect with the mining development area.
At the time of this report, the project still remains in the exploration stage according to MNDM’s Ring of Fire Secretariat. Four communities in Northern Ontario have submitted bids to Noront Resources to become the site for a ferrochrome smelter – Greater Sudbury, Timmins, Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay. The Township is 246 kilometres away from Thunder Bay – with a decision expected by the end of 2018. As such, this may have potential benefit to the Township but it appears to be unknown what the potential would be.