AbitibiBowater's C$32M investment, planned 2014 restart of Ignace, Ontario sawmill 'rekindles hope' in community, says mayor

LOS ANGELES , August 30, 2011 () – AbitibiBowater’s announcement on Monday that it will invest C$32M in its Ignace, Ontario sawmill before restarting it in 2014 has drawn a positive reaction from community and union officials.

Ignace mayor Lee Kennard said the news was a positive turn for the city, as the plant closure in 2006 had crushed any hopes residents had of a reopening. He said the announcement would rekindle hope in the community, TbNewsWatch reported on Aug. 29.

Kennard said the tax base in Ignace was so low that the council was debating the closure of the township’s arena by next winter. “We were really down,” he said.

The sawmill has been shuttered since 2006 after the company failed to secure an adequate wood allocation. The investment and reopening, which would provide more than 80 jobs, requires the agreement of the United Steelworkers union.

President of Local 1-2010 Guy Bourgouin said the announcement had come as a relief, adding he was “pretty confident” that his members would agree although he had mixed feelings about the three-year wait before workers could return.

Richard Groves, forestry manager with AbitibiBowater, said an additional energy system, kilns to dry lumber and a planer produce finished products would be installed at the plant over the next two years.

Groves said the mill had been down for so long that all the workers had left, which meant the facility would attract new employees from the community. He noted that the company had taken extra care in 2006 to protect all the plant’s gears and motors so that it could be restarted without much difficulty.

The primary source of this article is TbNewsWatch, Thunder Bay, Ontario, on Aug. 29, 2011.

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