Sault Ste. Marie based Riversedge Developments says dreams of re-starting the paper mill in Fort Frances Ontario is not based in reality.
“The paper making machine is 7 years old, it’s seized and rusty, it will never start.”, Justus Veldmen told SaultOnline.com Friday morning.
Veldman took possession of the former paper mill in July of this year. Riversedge Developments buys old and abandoned industrial sites and cleans them up for potential investors and developers.
“The challenge here is the town wants to see it re-start.”, Veldman said. “Unless someone invests hundreds of millions of dollars, that’s not going to happen.”
Veldman points to a letter sent out by the Rainy River First Nation Chief, Robin McGinnis, to the Ministry of Natural Resources stating why a possible restart of the pulp and paper mill in Fort Frances would be detrimental to other smaller communities. “As a First Nation and regional stakeholder, we see no possibility of the Fort Frances pulp and paper mill (now closed since 2014) starting up without completely disrupting the existing wood supply commitments served by the Crossroute and Sapawe Forests.”
According to a recent report published by a Thunder Bay based media website, TBWatch, the town of Fort Frances is now seeking back taxes from Riversedge. In the report, the town is looking to recover $437,000 in taxes owed on various properties by trying to seize some heavy equipment that was part of the purchase of the paper mill to Riversedge on the advice of the City’s solicitors.
Veldman says that matter has now been resolved, “We have taxes paid to the end of the year.”
Meanwhile, Veldman is proposing that council explore the possibilities of transforming the former mill into a cannabis grow operation. “They have a lot of cheap power at the mill.” Veldman explained. “The highest cost of a cannabis grow operation is power.”, Veldman said.
Veldman, CEO of Riversedge Developments, believes the town could capitalize on that growing industry.
Velman was involved in cleaning up the former St. Mary’s site here in Sault Ste. Marie several years ago and also contributed in developing Searchmont Ski Resort to make it attractive for a developer. The resort was sold to a U.S. developer last year.