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Fort Frances reps meet the ministers over paper mill, wood supply

Province to strategize over to how to share Crown wood supply needs in the northwest
Fort Frances AMO photo
(l-r) Fort Frances councillor Andrew Hallikas; Natural Resources Minister John Yakabuski; Mayor June Caul; Energy, Northern Development and Mines Minister and Kenora-Rainy River MPP Greg Rickford; and town councillor Douglas Judson talk northwest forestry at the AMO conference in Ottawa, Aug. 20. (Town of Fort Frances Facebook photo)

A delegation from the Town of Fort Frances met with two provincial cabinet ministers to talk about the future of the mothballed Fort Frances pulp and paper mill and Crown wood supply issues.

Mayor June Caul, CAO Doug Brown and two councillors huddled with Energy, Northern Development and Mines Minister and Kenora-Rainy River MPP Greg Rickford and Natural Resources and Forestry Minister John Yakabuski at the Association of Municipalities Ontario annual conference in Ottawa.

An Aug. 20 statement from the municipality indicated the two ministers “conveyed their understanding of the Town’s concerns” about the recent sale of the former Resolute Forest Products mill site to Riversedge Developments and the restrictive covenants placed on the new buyer from ever bringing the property back into commercial papermaking production again.

Fort Frances wants Queen’s Park to revoke Resolute’s harvesting licence and award the wood allocation to potential new forestry players that will put the mill back into production.

According to the release, the ministers pledged to work with the northwestern Ontario community and other area stakeholders to devise a process that will determine the current and future needs of the forestry industry in the district.

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For years, the Town of Fort Frances has been pushing for an Enhanced Sustainable Forest Licence, a new forest tenure model to ensure more local control over area Crown forests.

“The Town understands that internal meetings are slated between the two ministries for next week and looks forward to sharing more information with the community when it is able to do so,” said the news release.

“The Town will continue to be engaged with the province on this matter and looks forward to further productive discussions geared toward protecting the key economic drivers of the Rainy River District.”

Resolute closed the Fort Frances mill in 2014. Town officials are trying to prevent its demolition while encouraging the return of the mill site to its traditional manufacturing use. The new owners, Riversedge Developments, are floating the idea of a large-scale cannabis farm.