Riversedge pays town portion of taxes

Sam Odrowski

After issuing a Notice of Seizure for almost $500,000 in unpaid taxes to Riversedge Development earlier this month, the town has received some of it back.

“We’re trying to keep in control of what’s happening here in our community,” said Mayor June Caul on Monday evening.

“It did make our numbered company who’s involved with us now stand up and take notice that we do mean business here, that we do expect to get our taxes paid by them as well as anybody else who has property in Fort Frances,” she added.

The numbered company has now paid close to $300,000, according to Mayor Caul, with around $200,000 remaining.

“They have been making payments every week so we have a policy that’s getting something in line for them to sign so that we have an agreement between the town and this company to continue making payments,” she noted.

“We have conditions that will be put forward to them as well on what we are hoping for and what we want them to do as owners to keep this mill intact enough so that we can still sell it if the possibility is there,” added Mayor Caul.

In Red Rock, Riversedge Developments owes the town over $2 million in taxes for the mill property they own there and the Town of Fort Frances has been in communication with Red Rock over the incident.

Fort Frances has been in communication with Iroquois Falls who had a paper plant redeveloped by Riversegde as well.

Mayor Caul said both towns have been great supporters of the community and have shared information to help assist and protect Fort Frances.

“We’re very fortunate here because those mills didn’t know what kind of situation was going to develop with Resolute and with this Riversedge taking over the Resolute property,” Mayor Caul explained.

“They didn’t know that they were going to have the wool pulled over their eyes by Resolute and this numbered company, they have been great supporters for us in telling us what’s happened in their communities,” she added.

Mayor Caul said Fort Frances will be working with them to get information out to avoid other townships from having similar problems with poor site cleanups and unpaid taxes.

Also, regardless of the mill’s restart, she said the town will continue to fight to keep wood rights coming to Fort Frances.

“We need our province to step up to the plate and actually do that for us, so that we could possibly still entertain someone who’s interested in purchasing the mill,” Mayor Caul charged.

“Or for a future company to come forward they need wood, that is our bottom line right now, we need to get the wood that’s suppose to be here in Fort Frances for this mill to come back to us so that we can possibly find a future developer,” she added.

Mayor Caul was disappointed to hear the minister of Natural Resources and Forestry John Yakabuski was in Thunder Bay on Monday but didn’t extend an invitation to meet with the town over wood fibre allocations.

“Since we met with him at AMO, we have received no information from him on our requests to have the wood fibre allocated back to Fort Frances,” she noted.

In regards to Rainy River First Nation’s interest in converting the mill property into a cannabis growing operation or casino/hotel/event centre, Mayor Caul said she would certainly support it if the mill cannot be restarted.

“If no one comes forward, I’m happy to know there’s people out there who are looking at business plans and trying to get something to propose to our numbered company in town here to get something going,” Mayor Caul said.

“That’s the bottom line as well for the Town of Fort Frances. We need businesses now to come up with the tax base that we need in order to run the town without having to go to our residents and ask them for more money for their taxes,” she added.

“That’s what it will amount to if we don’t have some new businesses opening up on that property,” warned Mayor Caul.

Going forward, Mayor Caul said she’s hoping to get an engineer to tour the mill facility and provide an honest opinion on the viability of the paper machine and other equipment.

“We need someone who really can tell us that information and it has to be someone I feel I can trust,” she remarked.