FORT FRANCES, Ont. — Kenora-Rainy River MPP Greg Rickford has made his first public comment since the revelation that strict conditions were attached to the recent sale of the Resolute pulp and paper mill.
Rickford, who's also the Minister of Northern Development, issued a brief statement Wednesday which gave no indication how the provincial government might respond to a request from the Town of Fort Frances.
At a news conference Tuesday, town council called on the province to cancel Resolute's licence to harvest the Crossroute Forest.
Rickford's statement said the government is committed to making the forestry sector "open for business and open for jobs through the development of a new provincial forestry strategy."
It added, however, that "As the former owner of the pulp mill, decisions regarding the sale of the facility are Resolute's to make."
Town leaders were upset after learning about several restrictive covenants registered with the title of the mill property by Resolute and the new owner, Riversedge Developments.
They said the covenants essentially prohibit the reopening of the mill.
According to the town, in discussions with local officials Rickford had "expressed outrage" over the restrictions, and planned to travel to Toronto this week to meet Resolute officials.
There has been no confirmation from the minister's office that a meeting is taking place.
In his statement, Rickford said he would continue to work with the Fort Frances community to ensure the mill site remains an important economic driver for the district.
Riversedge has said it is looking into establishing a cannabis production facility on the mill property.