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Hampton calls for meeting to resolve Ceilia affair.

Plans for a meeting this month between the Northern Ontario Development Corporation (NODC) and Ceilia Corporation of Rainy River are being finalized.

The meeting could either conclude or extend Ceilia's long-standing request for financial assistance from the provincial agency.

Ceilia wants to construct a 30,000-square-foot manufacturing facility which would produce European-designed affordable housing units. It claims that the facility could produce 500 pre-fabricated units per year and employ 25 people, and that production could reach 3,500 units annually.

According to Ceilia, the units, which would sell for about $12,000 each, could be used as shelters for the homeless, public housing, or as housing for Native or remote mining communities.

Ceilia says the manufacturing facility will cost between $260,000 and $300,000 to build, and it has asked the NODC for a loan to cover the latter amount. The request has been denied several times because of insufficient information.

The NODC has asked for a more detailed financial statement, the resumes of Ceilia's managers and their proposed renumeration, as well as a detailed description of the manufacturing process developed by Netherlands-based Montanorm Building Systems B.V., Ceilia's partner in the Rainy River project.

Ceilia Corporation lawyer Ken McGill of London, Ont. previously offered to supply the information if the NODC approved a conditional commitment to fund the project. Even though his offer was rejected, McGill is hopeful the meeting will resolve the issue.

"Our decision-makers will be there, and hopefully the government will have its decision-makers there so that, when we all get up from the table, we'll have our answer," he said.

Peter Spik, NODC's regional manager in Thunder Bay, stated that the size of the loan prohibits an immediate answer.

"Because of the amount of the loan, the application has to go to our board of directors," Spik said during a telephone interview. "We're at the stage of collecting information (from the company) to do a study of the proposal."

Spik added that such information as market viability are required for the analysis.

Rainy River MPP and provincial Attorney General Howard Hampton called for the upcoming meeting with Ceilia after discussing the funding request with Rainy River Mayor Gordon Armstrong and Town Councillor Ed Tymkin.

During that exchange, Hampton voiced concern that Ceilia wanted the province to assume all of the financial risk associated with the project.

"This type of loan is funded with taxpayers' money. The province cannot afford to give $300,000 and take all the risk, while the proponent takes all the benefits," Hampton explained in a telephone interview from his Queen's Park office.

Hampton also expressed concern regarding the market potential identified by Ceilia.

"From dealing with Native communities, I know that they need the housing. But they only receive a certain amount of money from the government, so they may not be able to afford all the housing units they need," he explained.

Hampton reported that Ceilia's proposal has been discussed by other members of the provincial government.

"People are interested in the project, but what's been presented so far has not been sufficient," he said.

Hampton said this month's meeting will give all involved parties the opportunity to "lay their cards on the table" so that people will know why the funding is either rejected or approved.

In a telephone interview, Tymkin said local officials are hoping that the meeting will at least "break the perceived blockage" to the plan.

"This has been dragging on for three years. It's time to get this solved," Tymkin asserted. "It (the Ceilia proposal) could create jobs and could become the largest employer in town.

"It would be the first thing that has come to Northern Ontario that adds to employment instead of taking away from it," he added.

Tymkin pointed out that local residents have invested about $142,000 into the project.
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Title Annotation:attorney general Harold Hampton
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Oct 1, 1991
Words:640
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