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As mayor, Rodriguez would renew fight for share of mining revenue

By: Darren MacDonald - Sudbury Northern Life

 | Aug 07, 2014 - 7:11 PM |
John Rodriguez said this week he would renew his fight to get Queen's Park to share mining revenue with Greater Sudbury, if he's elected mayor again on Oct. 27. While he wasn't able to convince the province to agree with his plan when he was mayor from 206-2010, Rodriguez says conditions have changed. File photo.

John Rodriguez said this week he would renew his fight to get Queen's Park to share mining revenue with Greater Sudbury, if he's elected mayor again on Oct. 27. While he wasn't able to convince the province to agree with his plan when he was mayor from 206-2010, Rodriguez says conditions have changed. File photo.

Says conditions are more favourable now than when he was in office

 At a news conference this week, former Mayor John Rodriguez renewed his call for the province to begin sharing mining revenue with Greater Sudbury and other northern communities.

“If we could share those resources with the province, we could begin to tackle the current infrastructure deficit of $700 million,” Rodriguez said in his remarks to reporters.


 Rodriguez provided copies of a report entitled 'A Refined Argument,' prepared by city advisory panel in 2008 that makes the argument for revenue sharing. For example, it says the province earned $50 million in mining royalties in 2007, yet the city has to foot the bill for the roads and other infrastructure the mining companies use.

“It is our citizens who have to accommodate the 103 40-ton trucks traversing our roads,” he said. “This is not fair and this is not just.”

Since the 1970s, mining companies have been removing building from their surface properties to avoid having to pay property and other taxes. Rodriguez said between 1970 and 2006, the share of the city budget funded by mining has dropped from 25 per cent to 6.5 per cent. In 2006, that meant mining companies paid $10 million of the $115 million in revenue collected in property taxes by the city. But federal and provincial revenue from mining has increased substantially over the same period, he said.

In an earlier interview, Rodriguez said it's not unlike agreements First Nations are working out with governments in the Ring of Fire and other areas — negotiations unheard of even 10 years ago. It's the same principle he would fight for if he regains the mayor's job in the Oct. 27 election.

“I know I'm right on this one,” he said. “As mayor … I will harness all available vehicles to lobby and convince the leaders of Ontario's government that this is not fair towards our city and other resource communities in Northern Ontario.”

This is the second policy announcement Rodriguez has made in recent weeks. In July, he vowed to lobby the province to sell local Hydro One assets to Greater Sudbury Utilities.

Rodriguez was mayor from 2006 until 2010, when he lost a bitter election campaign to Mayor Marianne Matichuk. Before that, he was the New Democratic MP for Nickel Belt from 1972-1980, and again from 1984-1993.

With Matichuk not running again, Rodriguez is one of eight candidates running for the mayor's job. They include Ward 5 Coun. Ron Dupuis, businessman Dan Melanson, and Auditor General Brian Bigger, who has yet to file his nomination papers, but who has received permission to take unpaid leave so he can run. They join newcomers Jeff Huska, Richard Majkot and Jean-Raymond Audet, along with perennial fringe candidate Ed Pokonzie.

Once Bigger officially joins the race, there will be 60 mayoral and city council candidates in the running, a record in Greater Sudbury since amalgamation 14 years ago. And the field could still grow, with the Sept. 12 deadline to register to run still weeks away.
Darren MacDonald

Darren MacDonald

Staff Writer

@Darrenmacd

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