KENORAONLINE.COM — With market demand and prices looking good for the softwood lumber industry, Steve Boon at Unifor says they’re hoping a wood supply can be found before they can restart the sawmill in Kenora.

“They made that clear when they took over the mill in October,” he said yesterday, during a phone interview.

The sawmill was bought by Itasca Capital last October, and the province says they’re working with the company on a source of wood, with the potential for First Nations in the area to be partners in the project.

“I hope at some point in the future we can sit down and work with some of those communities, and have a win-win scenario where there are harvesting and employment situations that contribute to those communities,” he said. 

Boon notes half the laid-off members have Indigenous roots. Before Christmas, there were more than 100 laid-off workers hoping for good news in the new year.

“Within 500 km of Kenora, there have now been 12 permanent mill closures and two partial mill closures in just the last 15 years,” Boon said,

“There is available wood out there, and we are waiting to get it locked up as soon as possible to get 120 laid off Unifor members back to work in Kenora,” he added.

“There are even more closures east of Nipigon,” he noted.

“In fact, there are only three remaining pulp and paper mills left in all of northwestern Ontario: Dryden, Thunder Bay, and Terrace Bay. We have been working closely with Minister Rickford and we are patiently waiting to lockup the additional wood supply for the Kenora sawmill to be modernized and restarted,” 

Boon listed off the mills permanently or partially closed within 500 km of kenora, including:

  • Devlin Timber Sawmill in Kenora—permanently closed;
  • Dryden Domtar (Weyerhaeuser) Sawmill—permanently closed;
  • Dryden Domtar—two paper machines and converting operations permanently closed;
  • Northern Woods Sawmill in Thunder Bay—permanently closed;
  • Great West Timber Sawmill in Thunder Bay—permanently closed;
  • Buchanan Northern Hardwoods Sawmill in Thunder Bay—permanently closed;
  • Mackenzie Forest Products Sawmill in Sioux Lookout—indefinitely closed;
  • Resolute Forest Products in Kenora (formerly Abitibi)—two paper machines permanently closed;
  • Thunder Bay Fine Paper—permanently closed;
  • Resolute pulp and paper mill in Thunder Bay—one large kraft machine permanently closed;
  • Resolute paper mill in Thunder Bay-Mission Mill (formerly Abitibi)—permanently closed;
  • Multiply Forest Products plywood mill in Nipigon—permanently closed; Norampac paper mill in Red Rock—permanently closed; and
  • Esker Sawmill in Red Lake—permanently closed.
  • Resolute Pulp and Paper Mill in Fort Frances – permanently closed
  • See more HERE.