Having met with senior executives from Paper Excellence Canada after its purchase of Catalyst Paper Corporation, City of Powell River mayor Dave Formosa said he is encouraged by the new company’s direction for the Powell River mill.
Formosa said he could not share all of the details of the meeting, but if certain things come together for the company, Paper Excellence is interested in investing new funds into Powell River’s mill. Paper Excellence is conducting market research in Asia on product needs and product mix, the mayor added, and if the research works to the benefit of some new products, there may be opportunity to expand here.
It is important for city council and the provincial government to continue working to show how important the mill is to Powell River and the province so that “they [Paper Excellence] are interested in investing new funds into the mill to give it some life,” said Formosa.
Formosa said the Powell River mill will continue working on the packaging products it has been shifting toward and moving away from newsprint.
“So, we still need to see certain things come together, and if they do, we will hear more on what the plans for the mill could be for the future,” said Formosa. “Until these pieces come together, it’s best that we just continue business as usual.”
Formosa said these are tough, tight times given the product mix, but the Powell River mill will continue to work with the program it has now and look forward to the possibility of some new capital investment into a machine or machines in the future.
According to the mayor, Catalyst was in peril of closing last November, December and January, and governments worked hard with the company to see that it stayed in business. Powell River and the Powell River council played a huge role with the premier and the minister, said Formosa.
“I’m proud to say the mill is still here, and that with the owner it landed, at the end of the day, I’m very happy,” said Formosa. “There is some hope that if everything can come together, we can see some longevity out of the mill and that’s what we want.”
Formosa said in terms of the new company’s management, Brian Baarda, the company’s president and chief executive officer, is an old friend of Powell River, having lived here and served as the mill manager.
“He understands Powell River, this mill and the importance of this mill to the community,” he added.