WATCH: Fifteen-hundred pulp mill workers from Crofton to Powell River and Port Alberni are breathing a sigh of relief. Catalyst Paper has been sold to a large buyer, putting all those communities these pulp and paper mills in the control of Paper Excellence, based in Richmond, B.C.
There was cause for celebration and cheer in Crofton’s Brass Bell Pub Tuesday.
It was Bob Nimmo’s birthday and the retired mill worker had just learned the Crofton pulp mill that fed his family for 35 years has just been sold to a new buyer.
“I think it’s a good idea,” said Nimmo.
“Because it wasn’t that long ago they were going to close it down.”
The feeling was shared around the pub full of Crofton residents.
I think it’s very good for the economy and for the local people,” said Crofton resident Earl Heglund.
Catalyst Paper employs 600 in the Cowichan Valley and 900 people at their paper mills in Port Alberni and Powell River.
So the purchase of the three pulp mills by Paper Excellence Canada is making waves across the west coast.
Paper Excellence is controlled by Indonesian forester Sinar Mas which already owns several other mills in Canada.
Brass Bell’s owner Jill Mahal hopes that means investment in the mills they’ve purchased.
“[It’s]the biggest employer around here,” said Mahal.
“I think it’s good and I know hearing from a lot of the guys that work there that there are things that they would like to see improved at the mill so hopefully this company will be able to resolve that for them.”
“They’re good well-paying jobs,” said Nimmo.
“And a lot of people don’t realize that there’s also a lot of support services you know like chipper truck drivers and all of that stuff and if the mill was to go down, their jobs are gone too.”
Forest Industry Analyst Kevin Mason said the purchase is good for Catalyst workers and Vancouver Island, but the deal would have been complex to put together.
“Having a company that has the financial ability to buy all three mills and then that ability to look to converting those mills and taking them from longer lifespan than they would have otherwise, I think you’ve got to look at that as you’ve got a more positive outcome than a lot of people postulated initially,” Mason said.
The sale agreement will need the approval of the B.C. Supreme Court and two-thirds of the Catalyst shareholders.