Unifor forestry members are urging the province to take immediate action in the efforts to re-start the Fort Frances pulp and paper mill, and protect the rights of the publicly-owned forestlands in the region.
“We’ve been working with the Town of Fort Frances and other key stakeholders since 2014 when the mill closed to explore new ownership and a re-starting of the mill,” said Unifor National representative Stephen Boon.
“Re-starting this mill would see 600 direct jobs restored by next year which would be a relief for the entire town. Ministers Rickford and Yakabuski and the province of Ontario must take the necessary steps to support this community,” he added.
Fort Frances mill owners, Resolute Forest Products, rejected every proposal for renewed mill operations and instead sold the mill property in July 2019 to a re-purposing company, Riversedge Developments.
Unifor shares the concerns of the people of Fort Frances over the poor outcomes experienced at some of Riversedge’s other former industrial properties, including leaning toward a “half-baked” marijuana grow-op scheme rather than speaking to companies interested in re-starting pulp and paper operations.
“Resolute’s sale agreement is so restrictive as to suggest any new owner would not be allowed to request wood supply from the Crossroute Forest, which is a pretty clear attempt by Resolute to consolidate control of publicly-owned forest by diverting trees and wood fibre away from Fort Frances and the Rainy River District,” said Boon.
“This region relies on forestry operations–time is running out and we need strong, decisive action to restore 600 jobs at Fort Frances,” he added.