The District of Clearwater (DOC) is working with various levels of government as well as different organizations to find ways to ease the fallout from the closure of Canfor’s Vavenby mill.
Canfor sent a letter to its Vavenby employees on June 3, announcing the decision that will inevitably result in the loss of more than 170 jobs.
Because the closure of the mill will cause a ripple effect that’ll touch nearly all businesses in the area, business owners within the DOC and Thompson-Nicola Regional District’s (TNRD) Area A have been invited to attend an information session at the Dutch Lake Community Centre on June 27 to share information on the situation.
“There are products out there people won’t have necessarily thought of that they can utilize, like Work BC, for example, has wage subsidy programs and job creation programs, and Community Futures can speak to (business owners) about the programs they have for business,” said Leslie Groulx, chief administrative officer with the DOC, adding Service Canada will also hopefully be in attendance to speak about programs.
“Then representatives from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development can also come in and talk to the businesses about what’s out there.”
Then there will also be a community town hall meeting on July 8 at Clearwater Secondary School for all residents to attend.
Last week there was a community transition team meeting with a long list of organizations taking part, which included the DOC, TNRD–Area A, Canfor, United Steel Workers, Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, Yellowhead Community Services, WorkBC, Service Canada, Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training, Industry Training Authority, Thompson Rivers University, Community Futures, and Ministry of Forest, Lands, Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development.
The meeting was scheduled so those involved could get a better idea of what’s available to help the area transition in the upcoming months.
“We heard what all these different people could do for the community and for training purposes, then there was a bit of a brainstorming session and there’ll be some action items that come out of it, which we haven’t seen the list yet,” Groulx said, noting a second meeting took place later that week with mayor, council, TNRD directors from areas A and B, and representatives from the Ministry of Forests and Rural Development.
“We talked further on different things we would want to see as local government that the province could potentially help us with.”
In a recent statement, Mayor Merlin Blackwell said he realizes stress is building in the community, which is leading to uncertainty and anger among local residents.
He said positivity is needed and encourages anyone with questions or comments to contact a DOC councilor so the concerns can be discussed among the local government.
“We are lobbying for an investment in our future, for short term transitional work, and long term economic stability; we are not asking for a big hand out … we are asking upper levels of government to believe in all of us and to understand that we are worth investing in,” said Blackwell’s statement.
“And, very importantly, we will fight for our share of what all who have worked in forestry for the last 100 years have earned with your blood, sweat and tears.”