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New life was given to the Thunder Bay Generating Station on Nov. 15 with the announcement of its conversion to biomass. Local and provincial leaders were mostly pleased to see the station would be kept running, but many believe the region would be better served with a natural gas conversion. The biomass plant would be the first of its kind in the world, and scheduled to begin operating in 2015.
Cliffs Natural Resources announced they were indefinitely suspending their Ring of Fire operations. The announcement came on Nov. 20, and said their Thunder Bay and Toronto offices would be closed by the end of the year with workers laid off effective Dec. 31. Opposition parties took the provincial government and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle to task in Queen’s Park.
Five people were killed when a Bearskin Airlines flight went down shortly outside the Red Lake Airport. Three of the flight’s passengers, all from Red Lake, along with both pilots deceased in the crash. There were two survivors.
The Chiefs of Ontario gathered on the Fort William First Nation for their annual winter meeting. One of the focal points of the meetings was the group’s rejection of the federal government’s proposed First Nations Education Act, and plans to create their own education plan in the province.
Nearly 200 employees at the Resolute Forest Products sawmill were abruptly sent home from work on Nov. 21 over a health and safety issue, the third of the year at the mill. Union officials accused management of creating an environment where employees were fearful of reporting incidents.
The Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre spent most of the month in a state of gridlock. Beginning on Nov. 4, the hospital was facing over-capacity issues with alternate level of care patients. This forced the cancellation of some elective surgeries.
Former Ornge president and CEO Chris Mazza spent a weekend working at the city’s hospital as a locum emergency room doctor. Mazza, the highest paid public official in Ontario in 2011, was ousted from his position at the air ambulance agency amidst controversy and a police probe.
The Thunder Bay Indian Friendship Centre continued their push to city council for funding for a new youth centre at the former Port Arthur Prosvita building. The group asked for $2.5 million as well as an annual operating contribution of $300,000. A group of local residents oppose the proposed youth centre, collecting more than 300 signatures on a petition against it.
Officials with Horizon Wind Inc. walked out of a Nov. 26 meeting with the Fort William First Nation after 20 minutes due to a disagreement with their duty to consult with First Nations leaders. The environmental assessment of the project remains up in the air with no timeline for a provincial decision.
Eric Wirkkala pleaded guilty to 16 counts of uttering threats after being arrested in the beginning of the month. The 46-year-old was originally facing 65 charges after mailing threatening letters to various politicians and media outlets between July and October of 2012.
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