This is the second segment in a two-part series examining the fallout of the closure of the Northern Pulp mill. To check out the rest of our series, click here.
The Northern Pulp paper mill in Pictou County will officially shut down its operation and close the factory in Pictou County in just over a week.
The economic impact of losing the mill has already hit the region and will cut deeper and affect the communities of Pictou County and beyond come Jan. 31.
Pictou County warden Robert Parker has seen job losses and factories shutter and move out of the region before.
Parker knows the people here are a resilient bunch — but the loss of Northern Pulp will hurt and could be a breaking point for the people of Pictou County and the rural economy, he says.
“Some people will say it (Northern Pulp closure) won’t bother us, we always bounce back,” he said. “But a boxer can only take so many body blows and I think we’re getting near that limit where something has to give here soon.”
The finance staff at the municipality of Pictou County has crunched the number and without the paper mill in business, their tax revenue will take a significant hit.
They stand to lose $330,000 annually in tax revenues from the mill.
“It’s all based on revenue,” said Parker. “If you’re not making money, then you don’t pay the taxes. It’s not like a residential assessment.”
But it’s anticipated the financial impact will be much greater, Parker says, as many of the 300 employees who will be out of work call Pictou County home.
Other workers in the sector like loggers and truck drivers will also be affected.
“There’s going to be a million dollars or more, less spent in this county every week,” said Paker. “That has a huge impact, no matter whether you are selling groceries, or cars or new homes, whatever, a million dollars a week is a lot of lost revenue.”
Nancy Dicks, mayor for the Town of New Glasgow, said 77 mill workers live in town, which means they stand to be one of the hardest-hit communities.
“We’re playing a sort of waiting game right now to see what the employees of Northern Pulp are going to be doing and whether they’ve made the decision to move,” said Dicks.
For New Glasgow, the loss of families or workers who seek jobs elsewhere would leave a lasting impact, as Dicks says there is a feeling of a dark cloud lingering over the community with more questions than answers right now.
“How is this going to play out, when are we going to feel the ripple effects of this?”
On Thursday morning, Northern Pulp announced they issued more layoffs — this time pink slips went to the majority of its 90 salaried employees.
The factory’s union workers all received layoff notices last month.
The Pictou County Regional Enterprise Network set up last year to help drive economic opportunities in the region and the closure of the mill will be its toughest assignment yet.
CEO Sarah MacIntosh-Wiseman says they want to act as a navigator to help those affected by the mill closure find work here.
“This is going to hurt and it’s going to hurt a lot of people,” said MacIntosh-Wiseman. “So what we are trying to do is find ways we can be as supportive as possible and build out and find solutions.”
This isn’t just a Pictou County issue. The closure of the mill will affect industry members and workers across the province.
There are six other Regional Enterprise Networks across Nova Scotia, and MacIntosh-Wiseman says they will pull all of their resources together and coordinate with the provincial forestry transition team to try and minimize the impacts of the closure of Northern Pulp and its effect on the rural economy.