The closure of a paper mill in Nova Scotia in September does not mean a $1-million subsidy offered up by the provincial (Newfoundland & Labrador) government in July is off the table for loggers on the Northern Peninsula.
The money announced by the Department of Natural Resources was made available to the Northern Peninsula Forest Resources Association and the Nordic Economic Development Corporation to help offset the costs wood harvesters from the region would incur in transporting 25,000 cubic metres of timber to the NewPage Port Hawkesbury Corp. mill.
The money was meant as a way to secure employment for about 150 people employed in the forest industry on the Northern Peninsula as they awaited the completion of the Holson Forest Products pellet plant in Roddickton.
The paper mill, which had operated in Port Hawkesbury for 50 years, was shut down Sept. 17, leaving the fate of the subsidy up in the air.
According to the Department of Natural Resources last week, the money is still available and the department had been considering a new proposal from the loggers association that would benefit its members and the economy of the Northern Peninsula.
Ralph Payne of Plum Point, the association’s president, said Monday that an agreement is now in place and the pellet plant has agreed to take most of the logs they have harvested. Payne’s own logging company has been hauling wood to the plant in Roddickton since last Monday.
“I know there are some snags that have to be ironed out but we are quite pleased Holson Forest Products has come to our rescue,” Payne said Monday (Oct. 25). “All of the contractors are back to work and making their deliveries everyday.”
The snags Payne referred to had more to do with the wording of the proposal. The original plan had included sending wood to Bonavista Bay, but the new proposal does not. Payne said the money saved from not hauling wood to the province’s east coast will mean loggers can bring more wood to the Roddickton plant.
When the original proposal was submitted to government earlier this year, Payne expressed some concerns about the productivity of the Roddickton pellet plant. He said the plant is in the process of adding a bigger wood chipper and expects it to have increased productivity within weeks.
Payne, who said the work created is benefitting between 200 and 300 people directly and indirectly involved in the forest industry, took that as a positive sign for the long term.
“They told us that, come the spring, they should have all the wood used up and will need all the wood they can possibly get,” said Payne.