Newspaper article The Canadian Press

PCs, NDP Want Ontario to Change Forestry Rules to Keep Fort Frances Mill Alive

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

PCs, NDP Want Ontario to Change Forestry Rules to Keep Fort Frances Mill Alive

Article excerpt

PCs, NDP want rule change to keep mill alive


TORONTO - The opposition parties called on the Ontario government Wednesday to change the rules on control of Crown forests to help save a pulp mill in Fort Frances, and up to one thousand jobs.

The Progressive Conservatives and NDP said Resolute Forest Products is blocking the sale of the shuttered mill to Expera Specialty Solutions of Wisconsin because it still controls the timber surrounding the town near the Manitoba border.

"Expera, a speciality paper company, was interested in reopening the plant, but they could not get a reasonably priced supply of wood fibre essential to make the project viable -- that price is controlled by the past owners of the mill," complained PC northern development critic Norm Miller.

New Democrat Sarah Campbell, who represents the Kenora-Rainy River riding that includes Fort Frances, said residents don't understand why Resolute retains the power to price the wood supply so high that it makes a deal with a willing buyer unachievable.

"We have a mill. We have ample wood supply, and we have a company that's interested in buying," said Campbell. "Yet we can't attract this new investment in Ontario because the existing mill, that company has control over the wood supply."

People in her community are upset at seeing trees being harvested in their region but then sent to mills in other towns, added Campbell as she called for a change in the licensing rules.

"If that mill goes down, then those (timber) rights should go back to the Crown," she said.

In the legislature, Campbell accused Natural Resources Minister Bill Mauro of putting the interests of his community of Thunder Bay ahead of the interests of the people of Fort Frances.

"Minister, is the reason why you're refusing to resolve this situation in Fort Frances because the wood is going to your riding to be processed instead of staying in Fort Frances," Campbell asked during question period. …

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