Forestry summit being held tonight

Leaders at the municipal and provincial levels are expected to speak at a public meeting here tonight to discuss the state of the forest industry in Northwestern Ontario.
Mayor Dan Onichuk and Kenora-Rainy River MPP Howard Hampton all slated to address the issue at tonight’s meeting, which gets underway at 7 p.m. in the auditorium at the Memorial Sports Centre.
Thunder Bay-Rainy River MP Ken Boshcoff will not be able to attend. He is in Indonesia this week with Fisheries and Oceans minister Geoff Regan at the APEC Ocean Ministers’ Meeting.
Other confirmed speakers include John Harrison, manager of the Abitibi-Consolidated mill here, Gary Rogozinski, president of the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce, and Mark Alderson, manager of the Ainsworth Barwick OSB mill.
“We’re really pleased to have him [Alderson] coming from the district,” said Coun. Tannis Drysdale, who helped organize the forestry summit.
“I’m pretty enthusiastic about it,” she added. “It’s a good opportunity for us in the Rainy River District to discuss the economic role of this industry in our communities.
“And it’s an opportunity for residents of Fort Frances to send a clear message all the way to Toronto that action needs to be taken now,” she stressed.
Citizens are “urged to attend,” Coun. Drysdale said, despite Premier Dalton McGuinty’s promise last month to come forward with an investment in the forestry sector.
“I was hopeful we would have had an announcement by now and be able to tell a more positive story tonight,” she remarked.
The premier made his pledge during the annual Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference in Toronto last month.
Dryden held a similar town hall-style meeting in July, which drew nearly 400 people. Ear Falls held one yesterday.
The summit here is being dubbed as a “public information and strategy meeting.”