After almost a year of uncertainty in Hornepayne, Ont., a new owner has closed the deal to purchase the idled lumber mill in the community.
The mill, formerly owned by the Olav Haavaldsrud Timber Company, shut down in November, 2015, leaving 146 people out of work.
Hornepayne mayor Morley Forster told CBC News he was pleased to get a call from Ontario’s Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, Kathryn McGarry, with the good news.
“I was very happy to hear that the sale had gone through, and that we were looking at the light at the end of the tunnel quite brightly now,” he said.
Times have been tough for the community over the past several months, with some people moving away to find work, Forster said, adding that the mill also helps support other industries in the area.
“There’s the trucking industry, there was quite a few trucks that used to haul the chips and sawdust away as well as the lumber,” he said. “There’s the mechanics and fuel dispensing outfits that are impacted.”
There’s a “great deal” of interest around town about when people can get back to work, Forster added, but he also noted that talks still have to happen between the new owners and the union representing mill workers.
Owners aiming for January 2017 re-start
The mill was purchased by Hornepayne Lumber LP, its president is Frank Dottori. He was also behind the 2013 re-start of the mill in White River, Ont.
Having the two mills, and their wood supplies, in fairly close proximity to each other should help both operations, Dottori said.
“There’s the possibility of integration there of the wood supply between the two mills,” he said.
“Some of the north wood that White River has will be good for Hornepayne and some of the wood in the south that Hornepayne has will be good for White River.”
Dottori said he’s aiming to have one shift working at the mill in January, 2017, and another by April or May. He said that could be contingent on the outcome of any new softwood lumber deal between Canada and the United States.
“We need jobs in northern Ontario,” he said. “How are you going to get them? You get them by re-activating the forest industry.”
“So far, it looks positive, but you want to make sure [it stays] that way.”
As far as the co-generation plant in Hornepayne that was also affected by the closure, Dottori told CBC News the new deal doesn’t cover that facility, but he’s in negotiations to purchase it as well.