Northern Pulp has released a study which they hope clears the air about the economic value of the mill to Pictou County, and the province.
But some say the mill’s environmental impact has created an issue of trust with the community, especially the Pictou Landing First Nation.
The economic study found Northern Pulp is responsible for more than 330 direct jobs, and another 17,000 spin-off in the forestry industry.
That means $101 million dollars in annual income, and a total economic impact of more than half a billion dollars a year.
The mill has come under intense environmental scrutiny in the last year or two.
Some wonder if releasing these numbers is a company scare tactic to show what could be lost if the mill closed.
“No, our intention is to educate people about forestry and about our part in the forest industry,” explains Northern Pulp manager Bruce Chapman.
“I think we have to find a way that people in Pictou County can trust and believe in the figures that are coming into them all the time,” adds county councilor Bob Parker. “Right now that trust has been lost over the years.”
Trust has always been an issue for Chief Andrea Paul, and the people of Pictou Landing First Nation.
Mill effluent has been dumped into the boat harbor treatment lagoon in Pictou Landing, for more than 40 years.
“The band never once had ever said that they wanted this mill closed,” says Chief Andrea Paul of Pictou Landing First Nation. “They’ve never said. That’s been our driving force, our driving force, our objective has been, you have to stop dumping effluent in our back yard.”
Officials with Paper Excellence, the company that took over the mill four years ago, say they have every intention of continuing operations.
Their message to the community is simple.
“The first thing I say to them is please don’t trust us, because in terms of trust with the province, in terms of trust with the company, we’ve done nothing to earn that trust,” explains Tanner Elton of Paper Excellence. “What I’ve said is work with us, and let us earn that trust in the future.”
Meanwhile, Northern Pulp is appealing the industrial approval permit used by the Nova Scotia Environment Department, saying the new regulations are too severe, and threaten the economic viability of the mill and its spinoff effects.