Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The Siege

ATikokan is a small town under siege. Actually to listen around town Atikokan is a clinically depressed town under siege.

Two years ago during the provincial election the Liberals included in their platform a pledge to close all of Ontario's coal-fired generating stations. And I think that is a great idea -- in theory. THe problem is that in this town of 3500 (actually more like 3200 now I suspect) the loss of the generating station will be very much a dagger in the heart. The plant is set to pay 50% of the town tax revenue for 2005. The plant payroll (about 100 staff) is rumoured to be about $7 million. And then there are the spin-off jobs. So when the announcement was made 2 weeks ago that this plant will close in 2007 it was understandable that panic and anger set in very quickly. In fact many around town use words like "deathknell" or "Town for Sale". There is a siege mentality, coupled with a doom and gloom that is downright depressing -- and I have become something of an optimist as I get older.

I find myself in a tough spot. I share the anxiety of such a move and yet I see that the government may well be doing a good thing. Doing it with little forethought and planning perhaps but still doing a good thing. The probable impact on Atikokan is undeniable, but aren't we supposed to think beyond our tribal boudaries as well?

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