Wrest away fibre control

According to the Windsor Star, the province of Ontario pledged $385 million in assistance to Ford Motor Company and the feds are looking at matching that.
It works out to better than $1 million per job created. Apparently southwestern Ontario has been hard hit by the loss of manufacturing jobs.
Here in Rainy River District, the feds and province probably would not have to invest $200 million to get the mill in Fort Frances up and running. It only might take wresting control of the Crossroute Forest from Resolute.
Rumours throughout Borderland indicate that Packaging Corporation of America, which operates the mill in International Falls, is interested in acquiring the Fort Frances mill complex.
Both mills, when constructed and run for almost 100 years, were fully integrated and shipped fibre back and forth over the bridge. The two mills complemented each other by making different products—one specializing in specialty groundwood while the other made fine paper.
Rumours indicate the stumbling block to a deal is that Resolute wants to continue to control the fibre, meaning the purchasers of the mill would have to buy their fibre from Resolute.
The deal requires a willing buyer and a willing seller. However, one wants a deal with strings attached; the other wants a deal without strings.
Currently, Resolute Forest Products manages and controls the wood allotment for the Crossroute Forest. Historically, the wood of that forest has been assigned to the mill at Fort Frances.
The agreement between the province and Backus was created in 1904. All of the corporate owners of the mill in Fort Frances always have received their wood from the forest and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry still certifies that the wood is dedicated to the mill here.
Resolute has continued—despite the closing of the Fort Frances mill—to manage the Crossroute Forest and allocate the fibre. Today, most of the fibre is not being used and the province is losing valuable timber stumpage fees.
The majority of the fibre being used is going to Thunder Bay. Meanwhile, Ainsworth (located in Chapple) and Manitou Forest Products could use more fibre to expand their operations.
The province could apply pressure to Resolute to sell the mill by removing its management of the Crossroute Forest and transferring it to an Enhanced Forest Management group, managed by the municipalities and First Nations of Rainy River District.
That group would determine where the fibre from the Crossroute Forest would be delivered.
In removing the fibre from Resolute, it might make the sale of the Fort Frances mill more attractive to the company. The province also could then step in and finance upgrades of the mill to the new operation.
It helped the Ford Motor Company with $1 million per job created; helping the district might not require that $1 million per worker to modernize the mill here. Jobs would be created and the province again would see its revenues from the forests grow.
The governing Liberals would be able to show they really do care about creating jobs in the region farthest from Queen’s Park.
It would take political will by Premier Kathleen Wynne, as well as the ministers of Northern Development and Mines and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, who both happen to find their homes in Thunder Bay.

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