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MARCH 18, 2005

Fire at Domtar mill in Elk Lake

Fire destroyed Domtar's planing mill in Elk Lake, CBC Radio reports. The main sawmill and kiln were not affected in the Wednesday evening fire.

Operations will continue in the sawmill and the company will rebuild. No one was injured and about 30 jobs were involved in the planing operation, which dresses rough-cut lumber from the sawmill. Domtar says it will try to find other work for the affected employees.

No arson is suspected.

The Domtar mill is the major employer in the town, located north of Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Wilderness Park. It is the primary sawmill for spruce and jack pine cut in the Temagami region, including controversial cutting in the Muskego Wildlands and north of Lady Evelyn Lake and Maple Mountain. It will also be milling timber off the soon-to-be-reopened Red Squirrel Road extension.

Domtar is one of Canada's largest forest products companies. Its 2003 revenue topped $3.5 billion.

MARCH 17, 2005

Fishing hut removal a sign of approaching spring

You know spring is not far away when the fishing huts start coming off the ice. Anglers have started preparing for the March 31 deadline when huts (and garbage) must be off Lake Temagami. Either that or a fine.

MARCH 8, 2005   

A new dam for Fourbass Lake?

In the news yesterday were reports of a new hydroelectric dam on the horizon for Fourbass Lake. When is news not news?

Minister of Natural Resources David Ramsay issued a press release announcing that Ontario is "making 18 sites available for waterpower development" across Ontario on Crown land. (The political spin calls it an expansion of "clean energy potential.")

In November, the ministry had called for "Expressions of Interest to identify potential waterpower sites" and from those private proposals the 18 sites were "approved as appropriate for development." Sound vague? It should.

Fourbass Lake on the Matabitchuan River, three kilometres (1.9 miles) west of Lake Timiskaming, was on the list. Unlike all the other sites, it had no assigned site number. Spokesperson Ian Crawford admitted that all the ministry had was a undefined proposal from a private group for development on Fourbass Lake, somewhere on Fourbass. You can't give it a site location if there isn't one.

Crawford did not know if the proposal would be at the outlet, where there has been a hydroelectric dam since 1910, or on one of the small rivers flowing into the lake.

The nearly century-old generating station captured the flow of the Matabitchuan River and flooded four lakes First Bass, Second Bass, Third Bass and Fourth Bass creating a new water body named Fourbass.  

Then what's the proposal? Another dam site, or something piggybacked on the existing dam? Without a written proposal it is not even certain that it's viable.

So, why announce it? Possibly because it's the minister's riding. Mr. Ramsay, any news is good news, right?


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