Forest license deserves a second look in court

Dear editor,

The Fort Frances Times published an article on October 27, 2021 which referred to a Legal Opinion related to Resolute Forest Product’s compliance with the terms and conditions of the Crossroute Forest License.

The law firm advised that Resolute Forest Products annual report to the MNRF, referred to the 2017 Crossroute IFA, however the IFA was not publicly available and a full Legal Opinion related to this question could not be provided without a review of the 2017 Crossroute IFA report.

The law firm identified the significance of these Independent Forest Audits as the process by which the Ministry determines if the Licence Holder is compliant with the terms and conditions of the SFL and if not satisfied that Resolute Forest Products was compliant with the terms and conditions of the licence, the licence would not be extended as per 26(4) of the Crown Forest Sustainability Act.

The record in the Ontario Legislative Library indicates the 2017 Crossroute IFA was published in October 2017, however the Ministry did not include this IFA in the representations to cabinet to extend this licence. Why?

Without a legitimate 2017 Crossroute IFA Report, the Crossroute Sustainable Forest Licence should not have been extended beyond March 31, 2017 and the wood allocated therein released for a competitive procurement process. This did not occur and therefore is directly related to the demise of the economic stability and sustainability of the Town of Fort Frances.

The Crossroute Sustainable Forest Licence Number granted by an Order-in-Council April 24, 1997 is 542245 the Licence number of the Boundary Waters Forest Management Corporation is 542245.On September 10 2020 the MNRF amended this SFL by replacing Boundary Waters Forest Management Corporation as the Licence Holder instead of Resolute FP Canada Inc. Amending the Licence Holder is not supported by any Legislation or Regulation.

The Kraft Mill and Biomass structures are still standing and as long as they are, Fort Frances still has an opportunity to have a facility within its jurisdiction to process forest resources. This opportunity disappears when those two structures come down. It is not to late for Council to take action by passing a resolution to request a judicial investigation, as in section 274(1) of the Municipal Act 2001, of the MNRF administration of SFL No. 542245.

Thank you
David Kircher