CTV NEWS — More than 200 mill workers in Powell River, B.C., are out of a job Wednesday after Paper Excellence announced the indefinite end of operations at its Catalyst Paper tiskwat mill.

The B.C.-based pulp and paper company says the global contraction of paper markets and the collapse of paper prices created ongoing financial losses at the Powell River mill.

“Despite the best efforts of the mill’s committed team of employees, the facility is simply not viable under the reality of today’s market conditions,” Paper Excellence said in a statement Wednesday.

The company had previously announced a temporary curtailment of operations at the mill starting on Nov. 22 with a potential restart in the new year.

The company says 206 employees are affected by the closure.

“Where possible, the company plans to offer relocation or secondment opportunities to other Paper Excellence facilities across B.C. where there are current job vacancies,” the company said.

Paper Excellence operates mills in Crofton and Port Alberni.

‘DEVASTATING’ FOR THE COMMUNITY

In a statement Wednesday, B.C. Forests Minister Katrine Conroy called the curtailment announcement “devastating for the 206 people who work at a mill, their families and the Powell River community.”

“Our government has worked tirelessly with Paper Excellence to keep this operation running and it was our hope that the temporary curtailment announced two weeks ago would have been just that,” Conroy said.

“Our government is committed to supporting impacted workers through skills training, short-term employment opportunities, and employment assistance and support,” the minister added. “Separately, my colleagues and I will continue to meet with industry leaders to discuss future economic development opportunities at the site.”

The company says it will safeguard the Powell River site and its equipment, removing all fibre and chemicals from the site to eliminate environmental risks. “A small team of employees will continue to provide around-the-clock security and monitoring,” the company added.

Paper Excellence says it is engaged with governments and potential partners to find new opportunities for the facility, given its unique access to deep water, natural gas, electricity and power-generating capacity.

“It is Paper Excellence’s long-term goal that the site continues to provide meaningful employment and economic activity in Powell River,” the company said.

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