Thunder Bay

Ontario pledges money for Fort Frances mill area redevelopment

It is also providing $18,000 to the Rainy River Future Development Corporation to study the feasibility of developing a modular house manufacturing facility in the region.

It is also providing money to study modular home manufacturing in Rainy River

Fort Frances mayor June Caul said the $65,000 would be used to conduct a land use and economic feasibility study for the redevelopment of the Shevlin wood yard and the former nursing station - components of Resolute Forest Products' former pulp and paper mill operations. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

The province announced Thursday it is providing $65,000 to the town of Fort Frances to help it create redevelopment plans for two properties that were part of the former Resolute Forest Products pulp and paper mill operations in the town.

It is also providing $18,000 to the Rainy River Future Development Corporation to study the feasibility of developing a modular house manufacturing facility in the region.

Modular houses are pre-fabricated homes built in segments offsite, which are then delivered and assembled onsite.  

Rainy River mayor Deborah Ewald thanked the province for the investment in the study in a statement issued Thursday by the government.  

Fort Frances mayor June Caul said in the same statement that her town is pleased to receive the $65,000, which she said would be used to conduct a land use and economic feasibility study for the redevelopment of the Shevlin wood yard and the former nursing station, creating a gateway to the Rainy Lake Market Square.

Town fought for mill to reopen

Fort Frances council had advocated vigorously to see the former mill, which was shuttered by Resolute Forest Products in 2014, reopened.

Last year, it passed a resolution calling on the province to expand access to wood from the nearby Crossroute Forest, saying that companies interested in buying the mill to restart it were being deterred by a lack of affordable access to wood. The sustainable forest license for the Crossroute is held by Resolute.

"The mill's future has been jeopardized by what appear to be dealings motivated by a desire to maintain control of the local wood supply or to hinder new entrants into the forest industry," the resolution read.    

Resolute called parts of the resolution false, misleading or defamatory.

However, asked if Resolute would guarantee a mill buyer access to affordable wood from the Crossroute forest, spokesperson Seth Kursman said Resolute was "concerned with maintaining sufficient access to cost-competitive fibre for our currently operating facilities in northwestern Ontario."

The town of Fort Frances announced in July of 2019 that Resolute had sold the former mill to a company believed to be a subsidiary of Riversedge Developments.