'We need housing' former premier Mike Harris says on Greenbelt issue

Former Premier Mike Harris was one of many charity-minded golfers teeing up today at the Annual Osprey Links Charity Golf Tournament. The event raises funds for the North Bay Regional Health Centre Foundation, and it’s one of the foundation’s largest fundraising events.

Asked about the Greenbelt issue, Harris wasn’t too keen to comment on politics. “I’ve been out for 21 years, so I’m not up on the day-to-day,” he said.

“We need housing,” he added. “One thing I do know is that you either have farmland or you have forests or wetlands, and somebody objects to development on any one of those three.”

“From what I’ve read, it’s a tiny little sliver coming out, even more going back in, so I think it's fine.”

And with that, Harris went to find a cart, eager to join his team of four on the links.

See: ‘We need 1.5 million houses built,’ Fedeli said, regarding Greenbelt

Harris has attended almost every year to support the tournament, and he serves as the honourary chair of the event. He addressed the crowd and thanked all the sponsors for their support.

“I see many familiar faces,” he noted, “many of you have been here for 25 years. And in that time, we’ve raised just over a million dollars, most of it for the hospital, and a few other charities along the way.”

He mentioned the event was started by his friend, the late Peter Minogue, “and we’ve carried that on over the years to give something back to the community.”

After his opening speech, Harris took some time with the media and elaborated on his friendship with Minogue. “We grew up together, so we’ve been life-long friends. When he started this development here, and this golf course, he saw it as a way to give something back to the community.”

“It’s a pleasure to keep doing it,” he said of his participation.

“North Bay was home,” he said, adding that he still has a cottage in the area. Supporting the hospital and keeping it strong helps the community, he said, as these services help “attract jobs and industry” to the area.

“It’s a way for me to give back, I think I’ve made it every year, and I hope I can make it for many more.”

The funds from this year’s round go toward purchasing new mammography machines for the hospital.

Paul Heinrich, the President of the North Bay Regional Health Centre, detailed how “it’s incredibly important to have the most modern equipment” at the hospital. “The quality needs to be high,” he added, so it’s important to keep up with new models every few years, to ensure patients receive the best treatment available.

The province won’t buy this equipment for the hospital, “so without this kind of community infusion we wouldn’t have the latest and greatest technology to care for our patients.”

Heinrich also mentioned that having the support of the former Premier was a great boost to the fundraiser. “It’s huge. I think the Minogues and Mr. Harris have been incredibly generous and supportive of our hospital.”

“I look forward to this every year.”

The event is sponsored and presented by One Life Wealth Management, which has been a title sponsor for six years running.

David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca