White River benefits from new Harte Gold mine

A complete 180-degree turn would be the best way to describe the economy of White River, Ont.

200 jobs may be created in 800 person community

Tour of Harte Gold near White River 2:37

A complete 180-degree turn would be the best way to describe the economy of White River, Ont.

A decade ago, the local sawmill was closed, and the future of the community looked bleak.

Now, in 2017, hundreds of new jobs are slated to come to the community of 800 people along Highway 17 in northwestern Ontario.

In fact, there is even a labour shortage in the small community.

"Seeing the mine that was being prospected for years slowly come into development is great news for White River, it's brought a lot of new jobs, and stimulated our economy, so it's all good news," said Angelo Bazzoni, the Mayor of White River.
The entrance to the underground workings at the Sugar Zone mine north of White River, Ont. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

"White River is a robust little community, and when it falls flat on its face, we get together, we rebuild it. This is what we've always wanted to do, and it's working out great for us."

Bazzoni said one challenge is finding housing for all of the workers to live. Limited space at the mine site means all Harte Gold employees and contractors will have to live in White River.

"Housing is one of the challenges. Very uniquely, our economic development corporation has started construction on two homes that will be on the market, and Harte has taken steps of their own to accommodate the workforce."
A concrete pad sets in preparation for the mill at the Sugar Zone mine near White River, Ont. The mill is very compact, partially because of the small footprint of the site. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

Bazzoni said the township has 70 infill lots available for building - it just needs a contractor to come in and start building homes.

Even the local sawmill has brought in trailers to accommodate some of its employees.

Harte Gold, landlord

Steve Ball, the General Manager for Harte Gold said he never imagined that developing the mine from the ground up, and ground down, would also involve purchasing living quarters for workers.

"Our goal has been to hire locally where we can, when we find the right skills, and I think we've been quite successful with that," Ball said.

There aren't enough local workers, and those with the proper skills to fill all the positions at the mine. It means new workers will move to the community, or commute from elsewhere.
Steve Ball is the General Manager for Harte Gold at its White River, Ont., mine. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

"Most recently we've also bought the trailer park," he said. Other purchases include a former cabin rental business, to try and alleviate the housing shortage.

"We've had to improvise for sure. Welcome to White River and we like to make it unique."

When fully operational, the mill and mine will employ up to 200 people.

About the Author

Jeff Walters

Reporter/Editor

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Jeff is proud to work in his hometown, as well as throughout northwestern Ontario. Away from work, you can find him skiing (on water or snow), curling, out at the lake or flying.

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