WATCH: The closure is being called the “end of an era” marking the first time since 1901 that the Comox Valley hasn’t had a processing plant or creamery. The Island Farms plant in Victoria is the last one on Vancouver Island. Dean Stoltz has more.
Generations of dairy farmers in the Comox Valley have had a local processing plant or creamery to send their product to but as of March 31, the Saputo dairy processing plant in Courtenay will be closed.
“I just really heard that this morning from our milk truck driver and initially it was quite shocking, but there are fewer and fewer farmers here so the processing plant is pretty antiquated and it was probably just a matter of time,” said dairy farmer Fred Doberstein. “It is kind of an end of an era so it is kind of sad.”
A Saputo spokesperson in Montreal confirmed to CHEK News that the closure is an economic decision saying, “We are always analyzing ongoing activities and this was a decision based on operational efficiency.”
Twenty-six unionized workers and three managers will lose their jobs and will be looking at other options including relocation within the company.
“There’s always a disappointment when your workplace closes down for sure, but I don’t think there’s anyone there who is surprised by that,” said Teamsters Local 464 President Paul Barton.
The BC Milk Marketing Board determines where local milk is delivered and farmers assume it will now be processed by Island Farms in Victoria.
“Our milk is a perishable product, it still has to get picked up so it probably won’t affect us that much but the logistics of having this milk hauled to Victoria. That will have to be done by the milk haulers and that might be a bit of an issue,” said Doberstein.