ECO­NOMIC IM­PACT

Forestry in­dus­try mem­bers say North­ern Pulp is a crit­i­cal part­ner.

The News (New Glasgow) - - FRONT PAGE - BY ADAM MACINNIS

An­drew Wat­ters can’t help but worry about the fu­ture.

He man­ages the Group Savoie sawmill in Foxbrook, Pic­tou County and says there are only a few weeks’ worth of logs left to process be­fore the com­pany will have to start look­ing at lay­ing off em­ploy­ees. It usu­ally hap­pens at some point each year - but it’s not usu­ally this early.

A big­ger worry foresty work­ers is the fu­ture of North­ern Pulp.

In an in­dus­try that is in­ter­con­nected, Wat­ters hopes - for the sake the sawmill he works at and oth­ers in the prov­ince - that North­ern Pulp will be able to build a new ef­flu­ent treat­ment fa­cil­ity and con­tinue oper­a­tion in Pic­tou County with­out in­ter­rup­tion.

More than 35 per cent of the saw logs that come into Group Savoie are from North­ern Pulp, which, in the process of har­vest­ing forests, sorts the wood and sends it to the place where the wood will get the high­est value. It’s good for North­ern Pulp be­cause it gives the com­pany

greater value for the wood and good for Group Savoie be­cause it pro­vides qual­ity logs that are of­ten in short sup­ply.

The byprod­ucts from the sawmilling process at Group Savoie - like bark and saw­dust - are sent to North­ern Pulp to be used in the pulp process. For sawmills, it’s an ex­tra line of in­come that can mean the dif­fer­ence be­tween fi­nan­cial suc­cess or fail­ure.

Po­ten­tial dev­as­ta­tion

If the pulp mill were to close, Wat­ters said, it would be dev­as­tat­ing for sawmills in the re­gion.

“It may all work out in time, but most peo­ple won’t have time to make it work out,” he said.

He gets frus­trated when he hears a con­stant call from some peo­ple for the mill to be shut down.

“They’ve got to look at what’s go­ing to hap­pen in the com­mu­nity if there’s no pulp mill,” he said.

Jeff Bishop, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor for For­est Nova Sco­tia, said the im­pact of the mill is sig­nif­i­cant.

“Miss­ing a pulp mill as a part­ner would be sig­nif­i­cant for a num­ber of sawmills.”

He be­lieves if North­ern Pulp were to ever close, the im­pact would be im­me­di­ate.

“You’d see a num­ber of sawmills prob­a­bly that same day stop work­ing,” he said. “Within a week, you’d have a num­ber more that would do the same. It’s not eco­nom­i­cal for them to op­er­ate and not have that re­la­tion­ship that’s there.”

The ef­fects would rip­ple out from there to wood­lot own­ers.

“If we lose a big­ger player like North­ern Pulp, it just makes the mar­ket that much smaller. De­mand for wood would go down. What does that do to the value of stand­ing tim­ber?”

There are also con­trac­tors, sup­pli­ers and truck­ers that would be im­pacted.

“Some folks say it’s only X num­ber of peo­ple at North­ern Pulp. It’s not, if you re­ally un­der­stand the eco­nomics of it.”

Like Wat­ters, he finds the an­timill rhetoric con­cern­ing.

“We saw what hap­pened when (the Bowa­ter Mersey Pa­per Mill) left. There was a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact at the time.”

The eco­nomic im­pacts can still be felt in Liver­pool since the 2012 clo­sure.

Bishop doesn’t ques­tion the need to close the Boat Har­bour Treat­ment Fa­cil­ity, but as some­one watch­ing from the out­side, he wor­ries now about whether North­ern Pulp has the time to make things hap­pen.

“You hope the win­dow is there to get it done.”

“If we lose a big­ger player like North­ern Pulp, it just makes the mar­ket that much smaller. De­mand for wood would go down. What does that do to the value of stand­ing tim­ber?”

Jeff Bishop, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, For­est Nova Sco­tia

ADAM MACINNIS/THE NEWS

An­drew Wat­ters and Jody Ham­per are both em­ploy­ees at Group Savoie in Westville. The hard­wood saw mill is heav­ily de­pen­dent on its re­la­tion­ship with North­ern Pulp for its busi­ness suc­cess.

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