Monday, February 01, 2010

Closing the gate at Eurocan

The Eurocan pulp mill ran its final scheduled production shift on Sunday, bringing to an end forty years of production and leaving many of its now former employees left to wonder what the future will hold.

535 employees now find themselves on the job market, seeking employment and for the most part it is expected that a majority of them will be forced to relocate and for many uproot families that have called Kitimat home for many years.

While some residents still hold out hope that some solution will be found for the fate that beckons, whether it be through a new investor or by an employee led buyout of the West Fraser property, it all most likely will be a drawn out process which would leave many with few options but to move on.

That very real prospect of an exodus, not to mention the tax hit that the city of Kitimat will take on the mill closure has weighed heavily on Kitimat council over the last month as they try to come to terms with how the drastic reduction in revenues will impact on services.

Forest Minister Pat Bell is scheduled to meet with Kitimat officials on Monday to discuss the status of the closure and what possible options may be ahead, but for the short term and perhaps on into the future, Sunday arrived as a dark day for the city, one many Northern communities have lived through in the past and with which they continue to struggle with to this day.

In an unfortunate bit of timing, the Olympic torch relay arrives in the city on Monday, bringing its celebration bandwagon to a city that isn't feeling particularly inclined to celebrate anything these days. It will no doubt provide a diversion for the city's young people, a few moments to forget the troubles of their parents and of their town.

However, the flame will be a short lived visitor to the city, and a short lived respite from the looming troubles of the day.

Once it has moved north on to Terrace, the city returns to its struggle ahead to keep its community vibrant and economically alive, a task that is going to require much effort in trying economic times.

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