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City lends a hand to Boniferro Mill Works

City councillors voted tonight to provide a $60,000 interest-free loan to Boniferro Mill Works in an attempt to protect the hardwood sawmill's viability. Boniferro began an indefinite shutdown today, laying off 41 employees.
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City councillors voted tonight to provide a $60,000 interest-free loan to Boniferro Mill Works in an attempt to protect the hardwood sawmill's viability.

Boniferro began an indefinite shutdown today, laying off 41 employees.

In announcing the shutdown late last week, the company cited more than $1 million in residual value charges imposed by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources over the four years that Boniferro has operated the mill.

The money authorized by City Council tonight will go toward the cost of repairing the rail line serving Boniferro's property on Third Line West.

President and CEO Jim Boniferro told councillors tonight that CN advised last week that it could no longer service his firm because of the poor condition of the rail line. There was no advance notice and Boniferro had to make alternative arrangements for product that had been loaded onto rail cars on Monday and Tuesday.

The $60,000 to be loaned to the company will come from the City's economic development reserves.

Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corp. President & C.E.O. Bruce Strapp argued that the money will also benefit National Transportation and Anthony Domtar, which use the same rail spur.

Strapp asked that $40,000 of the loan be forgivable to help Boniferro address other cash-flow concerns, an idea that was rejected by City Council.

Jim Boniferro told councillors tonight that he's hoping to have his laid-off workers back on the job by June 1.