By Matthew Frank Kot
Sault Ste. Marie's unemployment rate, according to a knowledgeable source with inside information in the city's job market, continues to hover above the 10% mark. This inside source tells me not to quote him, because the information is sensitive. Sensitive? It's a NUMBER! Well, unfortunately, some numbers just aren't allowed to be published. Sault Ste. Marie is in a severe recession and the politicians and even the media don't want you to know that.
Two elections are likely going to be held this year. One, of course, is our municipal election. The other, isn't set in stone, but it's becoming more likely with every passing day. A provincial election. Why are elections important? Because we have a chance to throw the do-nothings out and replace them with people who are more likely to bring jobs to our fine city. You can pour tens of millions of dollars into the economy, but sometimes it just doesn't solve the problem. While our rate is 10%, Sudbury's is less than 7%, and Thunder Bay's is less than 6%. We are a border city with the potential to rake in plenty of tourism. We have a Steel Plant. Why are so many people not working?
My expert source tells gives me a one word answer: Infrastructure. We don't have enough space for big businesses to settle in the Sault. Make no mistake, businesses WANT to settle here. We have a population of 75,000 plus a few thousand more in nearby communities like Goulais, Heyden, Echo Bay, Bruce Mines, Prince Township, Thessalon, those small towns. There's definitely no reason NOT to come to Sault Ste. Marie. But we don't have the buildings. The government, they're the ones responsible for bringing businesses to the city. All levels of government, they have a duty to create jobs. All three levels of government have failed quite miserably.
Sault Ste. Marie has the potential to be great. So much opportunity. We can expose the gorgeous nature, the greenery, we can rake in the tourist dollars if our government played the right cards. Instead of acting, the City has conducted stupid little studies and surveys and there has obviously been no progress. There's this plan, called the "Canal District." This better work. If not, I can see every single councillor and our mayor all being thrown out of office in 2018 if our unemployment rate is still this high. The jobless are getting restless. They're frustrated. Nobody likes being on welfare. But thousands of Saultites are. They WANT to work, but no work is coming.
Giant Tiger. The Sault Star, Sault Ste. Marie's only legitimate news organization, reported that the company was looking to build a store here. The problem, like my source said, is that there's no place to go. I emailed the company suggesting that they look into the old Liquidation World store in the east end. They replied that they're still looking. Dozens of jobs could be created just by that one business. Not enough is being done to bring them to our city.
Sault Ste. Marie will one day recover from this recession. Jobs will come. Maybe not this week, nor this month, or this year. But they'll come. One way or another. People are starting to realize that the status quo isn't working. Since 2010, our city has had an unemployment rate of over 9%. People can't be THIS STUPID, they have to realize that things need to CHANGE. And I'm confident that once the people have made clear their frustration, that heads will roll, that businesses will come, and so too will jobs. Sault Ste. Marie will be great again.
About The Author
Matthew Frank Kot was born and raised here in Sault Ste Marie. He first starting writing articles for Soonews.ca in early 2008, becoming the city's youngest columnist and journalist. He then went on to write for Local2, and for a short time had his "MATTer of Opinion" column on SaultOnline.com. Matthew was very involved in the 2010 and 2014 Municipal Elections and wrote several opinion pieces about important issues. In 2011, Matthew started Sault Transit Reform and has continued advocating for a better transit system since then.