Fort Frances holds public meeting for clarity on wood supply rights

February 20, 2019

By: The Working Forest Staff

CBC News –Town council in Fort Frances, Ont., held a special public meeting Tuesday night to debate a resolution asserting the right of the town to use nearby forest resources to boost the local economy.

According to the report by CBC News, at issue is the fate of the community’s mill, which was closed in 2013 by owner Resolute Forest Products (RFP).

In December 2018, the town announced that a deal with Repap to reopen the facility was nearly complete.

But since then, the council has learned of requests by Resolute that any company wanting to purchase the idled mill sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), effectively prohibiting potential buyers from talking to the town council and the provincial government about access to the nearby Crossroute Forest.

“You can not buy a paper mill with an intention of operating it … if you can not gain access to a local supply of wood,” said Douglas Judson, a Fort Frances councilor.

“Resolute holds the license for the local wood supply and it would appear that they would prefer to hang onto that license without having obligations towards Fort Frances mill,” he said.

“That’s concerning because it puts at a disadvantage anyone who wants to reopen the facility and operate it to create jobs.”

Councilors in Fort Frances will be discussing that question at their meeting tonight. They’ll also be debating a resolution that asks the Ontario government to take a more hands-on and transparent approach to fibre allocation when a company decides to shut down operations. 7:40

The MPP for the community’s riding, Kenora – Rainy River, said he is “perplexed” by the NDA.

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