The 2019 preliminary capital budget includes funds earmarked for a feasibility study regarding the Shevlin wood yard, which will give town council some idea as to what can be done with the property.
But whether or not that property will be needed by Repap Resources Group if it purchases and re-starts the local pulp and paper mill remains unknown at this time.
Speaking at Monday afternoon’s budget meeting, Coun. Rick Wiedenhoeft said he understands the necessity of the wood yard study and thinks it’s a great idea.
But he also wondered if there’s any chance that Repap would be using that area as a “laydown” for wood chips, for example, and if so, how would that affect the need for a study.
“In our discussions over the last week with Repap, they are not clear whether or not they need it,” Fort Frances CAO Doug Brown said.
“One of the things, I think, the town should look at is maybe they can use it to start off with, and maybe there’s other land in our community that they can store wood on that makes more sense than being surrounded by three residential areas.
“There’s going to be a discussion,” Brown added. “First, we’ve got to know if Repap is going to be able to get the mill and then go from there.”
He also noted the study should be able to be done with the town only footing a small portion of the bill.
The wood yard study is listed in the preliminary capital budget at an estimated cost of $151,000. However, the town is aiming to get $135,000 in federal and provincial grants to help pay for it–leaving the town’s share at $16,000.
“I guess we’re in a wait-and-see mode with the wood yard study,” Brown conceded.
“It’s not clear at this point.”
Such a study also would include possible ideas as to what to do with the old nurses’ station located behind the CIBC bank.
“Part of the study is to look at that property and link the gateway to the downtown,” Brown said later in response to a question from Coun. Douglas Judson.
“Is it a through-road or is it something for a parking lot?
“This consultant would be looking at that first, doing a feasibility study for that area–the wood yard and that property,” Brown added.
“Let’s get a plan in place for these things.”
The capital budget at this time includes almost $14 million in projects, with more than $10 million being funded through reserves.
However, some of the big-tickets items–such as roads projects–are dependent entirely on securing government grants and very well could be removed from the budget at a later date.
The next budget meeting is slated for 4 p.m. on Feb. 19.