The closure of West Fraser’s Chasm mill will have a major impact on the region. File photo

Village of Clinton grappling with implications of Chasm mill closure

‘We will get through this’ says Clinton mayor of mill closure

West Fraser’s Chasm sawmill, located just north of the Village of Clinton, has been a substantial source of employment for local workers for decades past. Following the announcement of its closure in June, approximately 176 employees are slated to be affected by the shutdown. Many of those employees call Clinton home.

In the time since Chasm’s closure announcement, Clinton mayor Susan Swan issued a statement to the public via Clinton’s free newsletter, The Lariat. In her “Mayor’s Musings”, Swan admitted that June was a trying month for everyone.

“The 176 employees of the mill and their families have all had the rug pulled out from under them,” she said. “Mayor and council sympathize with what they are experiencing and want them to know that we are doing what we can to help.”

Swan noted that the Village recently met with personnel from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, as well as the Community Adjustment Manager, to discuss what may be done to help mill workers impacted by the shutdown.

Moreover, Swan advised that council held a special meeting with West Fraser’s management on June 20, three days after the Chasm closure announcement went public, to see how “we can help ease the impact on the mill employees and the Village.

“The Chair and Manager of the Clinton and District Community Forest both attended [that meeting] as well to ascertain the impact on the Community Forest,” said Swan. “West Fraser assured them that they will still be buying logs for their other mills.”

The Village hosted a public Town Hall meeting on June 25 to bring in various agencies and supports to inform the public of the steps being taken to support local mill workers and their families.

“The Chasm mill site is a satellite of the Village of Clinton,” said Swan. “This means that the Village receives property taxes from West Fraser. Council and staff will be exploring how the closure will affect [our] future plans and projects.”

No council minutes from the Village of Clinton have been publicly posted to the community’s website since before June, despite council meetings taking place throughout both June and July. Those documents are, however, available for request at the Village office. The next regular council meeting is scheduled for Aug. 14.

Swan concluded her comments on the closure by saying that Clinton is a resilient community.

“We will get through this,” she wrote, adding that council’s Five Year Economic Development Plan for the Village will now take on more urgency moving forward.

“We are not the only area dealing with mill closures,” Swan said.

“I and the mayors of the other affected communities have been in conversation regarding meetings with appropriate Ministers and the Premier.”

“This is not an isolated problem but a challenge for many of our interior B.C. communities. By working together, we have a stronger voice than trying to go it alone.”

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