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Pierre Cyr, Reporter

Funded by the Local Journalism Initiative

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 AndréFortin 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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