HUNTSVILLE – Huntsville has added its name to a regional petition aimed at swaying the province into including Muskoka in the northern Ontario economic development zone, though councillors seem skeptical.
Councillors readily supported a Town of Bracebridge motion that urged the provincial government to incorporate the region into the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund. Inclusion in the fund could lead to greater economic and job stimulus from the province, among other benefits.
Bracebridge mayor Graydon Smith has been angling for inclusion in the fund since Muskoka was blocked from joining the new Southwestern Ontario Economic Development Fund late last year. A provincial committee made the decision to cut out Muskoka, despite evidence that the region suffers from high unemployment and low incomes.
The provincial government previously removed the region from the northern fund, and then excluded it from both the eastern and southwestern funds. Muskoka, Ottawa and Toronto are the only three regions in Ontario that sit outside an economic development zone.
Huntsville mayor Claude Doughty said Huntsville’s endorsement of the motion would lend support to the campaign being led by Smith. “And we wish him all the luck in the world,” said Doughty with a grin.
Huntsville’s councillors broke into an ironic chuckle.
Councillors across the region have little confidence that the province will rescind its previous decision to pull Muskoka out of the north.