Town looks at mill demolition plans

Ken Kellar
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Members of the public now have a better idea of the timeline of the demolition of the Fort Frances Mill, along with just what will be coming down.

At the town’s Planning and Development Executive Committee meeting on Monday morning, Chief Building Officer and Municipal Planner Cody Vangel submitted an information report that served to illustrate just what is going on at the former Resolute mill site, now owned and controlled by a numbered entity under Riversedge Developments. The information report breaks down the different phases of demolition as the town understands them through the application of demolition permits, along with images that show what building each phase applies to.

Starting off the process of demolishing the mill, phase 1 is intended to deal with the “papermill, LAP storage building, LAP pulp train, associated pipe galleries and conveyors and the kraft woodroom building” according to the report. Vangel notes that the contractor, Canadian National Demolitions (CND), has completed roughly 90 percent of the teardown of the kraft mill woodroom building, along with the chip storage area and gallery, but that they have left “the northwesterly portion of phase 1” relatively untouched at this point in time, due to CND “awaiting project staging prior to commencing in this area.” The portion Vangel references includes the main papermill area along Central Ave and the LAP storage building which is between the International Bridge and the Canada Customs building on Church St.

Phase 2 of the process has also progressed quite far at this time. According to the report, CND said they estimate they are approximately 80 percent complete “in terms of taking the associated structure(s) down.” Phase 2 encompasses the screen building, located just behind the Canada customs building, and has likely been the most visible of the demolition projects thus far, with a number of vehicles stopping in the adjacent parking lot along Church Street to watch as the historic building comes down.

Looking ahead, Vangel notes that both Phase 3 and Phase 4, which are the Kraft Mill building and biomass boiler respectively, have not been issued demolition permits at this point. The permit for phase 3 of the demolition is awaiting “final requirements prior to issuing” the permit, and while no application or information has been submitted to the town in regards to the demolition of the biomass boiler building, Vangel notes in the report that such an application is “expected.” Previously, Riversedge asset manager Mitch LePage explained that the company was still exploring its options for some of the remaining buildings on the mill site, including the biomass building and that there was a possibility some might see future use, which could be an explanation for why an application for a permit hasn’t yet been submitted for Phase 4.

“There’s some items that we’re still trying to market, like Biomass,” LePage said in early November.

“We’re talking to various parties about its marketability and its future use, so that’s not finalized as for its future. We’re trying to market anything that we can for best end use, so whatever we can that makes sense, that is marketable, we want to provide to the market. Whatever then that does not fit that description has a different fate.”

Alongside the four major phases of the demolition process, Vangel also states that the town is expecting CND and Riversedge to pursue a number of smaller tear-downs throughout the process.

“In addition to the primary large-scale demolition scope there is expected to be multiple smaller scale demolition projects which will primarily consist of removing pre-manufactured steel structures from site,” the report reads.

“Some of which may be relocated within the Town of Fort Frances.”

The report does not state which existing buildings on the mill site might be part of these smaller scale demolitions or moves.

As the report is for information purposes only, it requires no action at council level, but nevertheless it does provide a glimpse into the expected timeline of the mill demolition over the course of the approximate 18 months that CND has stated the complete process will take, as well as one of the first real glimpses the public has at what the property could potentially look like at the end of the project.

The full report and accompanying schematics of what buildings will be involved in each Phase of demolition, go to the agenda for Monday morning’s Planning and Development Executive Committee meeting at