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Area E director hopeful Vaagen Fibre mill will keep operating

The regional director for Area E and West Boundary says the indefinite shutdown of Vaagen Fibre is disappointing.

Vaagen made the announcement about the West Midway plant on Friday citing a number of factors including the logging market.

Director Sharen Gibbs says the mill layoffs – nearly 200 staff and contractors — will have an economic ripple effect in an area with a population of about 3,500 people between Area E and the Village of Midway.

“This closure is going to impact Vaagen staff and contractors, not to mention all the local businesses. It’s going to affect all the restaurants, stores, it’s not a good thing! We need people to be working,” Gibbs said in an interview with Vista Radio.

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At all-candidates meetings during the election campaign, Gibbs says her answer was the economy when asked what was the most important issue for the region.

She spoke with Vaagan Fibre Manager Dan McMaster and is relaying the message “this is a shutdown, not a complete closure.”

Gibbs is hopeful a solution will be found to keep the mill operating.

“I think that we’re all standing together on this one. In fact, the Boundary Services Committee has directors, mayors and councillors from the West Boundary, meeting. I know this is going to be the top of our agenda. Everyone wants to see people working, they want to see this mill running,” she said.

The meeting of the Boundary Services Committee happens this week.

Gibbs says it’s always been “extremely challenging” for non-tenured mills, which buy their wood on the open market.

The Boundary Woodlot Association held its AGM on Saturday (Jan. 7) and Gibbs was hopeful the meeting would allow stakeholders an opportunity to find a solution “sooner rather than later…I’m feeling hopeful.”

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