Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Pierre Cyr
Davidson Sept. 18, 2023
Following his mid-August announcement of the closure of the Davidson Sawmill, Bruno St-Cyr, shareholder and executive vice-president of the company, has raised concerns over comments made in various local media by some of the people involved in the matter.
Among them, St-Cyr takes issue with statements made by MRC Pontiac Warden Jane Toller in an interview on CHIP FM on August 17 in which she effectively gave herself a “pat on the back,” as he put it, for all her efforts on behalf of the Davidson mill.
According to St-Cyr, he did not feel there was a deep commitment to the project on the part of the MRC.
“On the contrary,” he said, “feedback and frank discussions were not forthcoming.”
He says it left him wondering why the economic development team was not more involved in assisting him and his brother Hubert in their attempt to revive the business or improve the “weak business plan,” as it was described by the warden in the same interview.
As reported in THE EQUITY on August 16, the Quebec government had refused to provide the mill with guaranteed wood supply reservations, based on concerns linked to the coming into force of the Woodland and Mountain Caribou Strategy. That refusal proved to be a key factor in the St-Cyr’s decision to close their business.
THE EQUITY sought clarification from the Ministry of Forest and Natural Resources (MRNF) regarding the allocation of management units to Scieries Davidson. In its response, the ministry indicated that the Environment Ministry believes that the proposed Woodland and Mountain Caribou Strategy could have an impact on forest rights in Témiscamingue. Given that the two management units allocated to the Davidson mill are part of the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region, all holders of a timber supply guarantee received a letter in January 2023 confirming that their volume could be reduced. This was also the case for companies that had received confirmation that they had set aside a volume of wood for a project.
St-Cyr mentioned that Pontiac MNA André Fortin and Warden Jane Toller could have made a difference if they had made the point with the Environment Ministry that the management units allocated to the Scieries Davidson were not a habitat for the woodland caribou and therefore should not be subject to an eventual reduction in guaranteed wood supply reservations.
THE EQUITY also had the opportunity to discuss the Davidson sawmills situation with Gilles Dionne, member of the city council in Mansfield as a councillor for eight years (2009-2017) and as mayor (2017-2021). Dionne was greatly involved throughout the years and told THE EQUITY that the Municipality of Mansfield-Pontefract did all they could do to help Scieries Davidson to revive. Dionne told THE EQUITY he would take the same decisions today as a councillor or mayor as he did; taking into account the same parameters would prevail. Dionne said it is sad news for the population and the city to eventually see the sawmill dismantled.
St-Cyr mentioned that several buyers were interested in the sawmill, planer mill and drying kiln equipment. Some have visited the site to get an overview and demonstrated good interest.
At the same time, he said, “We have no intention to sell the Davidson industrial site for the time being.”


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