By Michael Lynch
Greenstone Mayor Charles Primeau wants to see a green industrial park developed in the former town of Longlac, located 400 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay.
"There is a lot of green energy legislation coming (from senior levels of government)," Primeau says, "and it makes such a park attractive."
Greenstone, which includes the communities of Geraldton, Beardmore and Longlac, was given $85,000 by FedNor late last year to investigate the establishment of the park at Longlac.
If established, the green industrial park would create clean energy by burning hog fuel (waste wood and bark) from the area’s four mills to produce clean thermal and electrical energy. Through a cogeneration agreement the energy would be sold to companies established in the community's proposed industrial park. Primeau says the town hopes to partner with the Ginoogaming First Nation in developing the green industrial park.
The FedNor grant was also intended for the development of a community recovery plan and an adjustment committee, following Longlac Wood Industries’ decision to cease operations indefinitely Nov. 9, 2001.
The plant was closed for two months, after the market for the company's products "turned around a little," Primeau says. Longlac Wood Industries produces plywood and waferboard and employs 400 at its two mills in the community.
The shutdown was not a surprise, says Primeau.
"(Longlac Wood Industries) had been taking losses at the two mills for months (prior to the shutdown)," Primeau says.
Officials at Longlac Wood Industries could not be reached for comment.
The company is working with the union to reduce costs, Primeau says. Both the company and union have also agreed to wait until the union contract is up in May 2002 before tackling the sensitive issue of wages and major concessions, he says.
Some management employees were laid off at Longlac Wood Industries' two mills, and not all the unionized employees were recalled. The adjustment committee is assisting these people with the preparation of resumes and job hunting, Primeau says.