It's a little over two months since the new town council was sworn in, and since that time the future of the local mill has been the biggest blip on its radar.
“Our main focus has been to work co-operatively with both Resolute Forest Products and The Repap Group to achieve a sale of the Fort Frances mill,” Mayor June Caul said at Monday night's council meeting.
“Repap has been very transparent to all groups in this district about their business plan," she stressed. ”They plan to open a mill that makes strong paper bags for cement, flour, and even dog food bags.
“They have reassured everyone, including Resolute, that they will not be in competition with their products,” the mayor added.
“However, Resolute is once again causing roadblocks to prevent the sale of our mill to be re-opened for production.”
Mayor Caul said every councillor, along with Fort Frances CAO Doug Brown, has been involved in trying to make this sale happen.
That includes many phone calls, letters, and meetings with local MPP Greg Rickford, Finance minister Vic Fedeli, Natural Resources and Forestry minister John Yakabuski, Municipal Affairs and Housing minister Steve Clark, local MP Don Rusnak, and Repap vice-president Sean Twomey.
“We formed a special committee to strategize how best we can lobby to promote the sale of the mill,” Mayor Caul noted.
“We have travelled to Thunder Bay, Dryden, and Kenora and throughout the district to meet with these government ministers.”
Mayor Caul said the town continues to lobby the present government to return the wood fibre designated in the Sustainable Forest Licence for the Fort Frances mill to us.
“The former government allowed Resolute to take our wood to their Thunder Bay and Atikokan mills," she remarked. ”We want the wood fibre back so our mill can happen.
“We want a business negotiation between Resolute and Repap to be done in 'good faith,'” she stressed.
Mayor Caul also said it's clear to see she and the rest of council have been very busy meeting with government officials “in more beneficial ways” than if they had gone to a conference in Toronto, for example.
“I am very proud of this council and all the time and effort they are giving to move our community forward in a positive and constructive way,” she lauded.
“Voters truly made great choices when they cast their votes.”
Mayor Caul asked all residents that if they have concerns about council not working hard, or have comments or suggestions that can assist them, that they come speak with her rather than around the local coffee shop or in a letter to the editor.
“My door is always open to everyone,” she pledged.