An automotive industry analyst has slammed the Ontario government’s plan to attract new automotive manufacturing investment to the Canadian province in a recent interview with The London Free Press.
In a letter sent to local municipal leaders, Ontario’s Progressive Conservative party indicated that it had determined a need for new automotive manufacturing sites in the province and encouraged municipalities to identify good plots of land for potential manufacturing sites.
“One of the biggest barriers automakers face if they want to build or expand an auto assembly plant is the availability of large-scale sites for manufacturing,” the letter said. “Our plan includes a Job Site Challenge which will give municipalities, that wish to participate, the opportunity to propose sites of 500 to 1,500 acres for industrial expansion.”
“We will partner with the successful proponents to make sure that development opportunities are competitive. This will of course include streamlining the approvals processes for planning, environmental and servicing.”
The letter is the first major push from the Ontario government in its ‘Driving Prosperity’ initiative, which it outlined after General Motors announced it would be closing down the Oshawa Assembly Plant before the end of 2019 and laying off roughly 5,000 workers.
Many automakers, including GM, have an abundance of North American manufacturing space and an accumulating stock of sedans like the Chevrolet Impala and Buick LaCrosse that Oshawa built. For this reason, auto analyst Dennis DesRosiers is baffled at the Ontario PC’s initiative and recent letter.
“I have never heard of anything like this before,” he told the London Free Press. “This is hard to figure out. The likelihood of a major assembly plant coming to anywhere in North America right now is near zero. The chance of there being a real prospect out there right now is very low.”
A spokesperson for Ontario’s economic development ministry defended the decision when speaking to the newspaper, saying there is indeed demand for new auto manufacturing sites on Ontario.
“We know there’s interest,” the ministry said. “We’re already starting to hear from municipalities that plan to participate, and we’re expecting to hear from more.”
It’s not yet clear which Ontario municipalities plan to participate in the program, nor how much it would cost taxpayers.
(source: The London Free Press)