Comment heard shortly after news broke that a creditor vote had saved Catalyst Paper from a bankruptcy selloff: “That’s great news, I guess, until next year.”
And that is the caveat that will be attached to any mill talk in the foreseeable future.
Employees and pensioners have to be celebrating. For them, this is clearly a reprieve.
But for the greater community, the Crofton pulp mill has been troubled for a long time. More than anything else, its troubles have been tied to the global market for the products it produces, and those markets don’t change based on who is in charge of Crofton.
So forgive the Cowichan public if it is skeptical that those troubled mill stories are soon to be a thing of the past. Optimism is not something a community can turn on and off.
But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and the Catalyst saga has forced some changes on Cowichan that may have made us tougher.
The first and foremost is it provided the impetus for North Cowichan to pare its reliance on the mill to reasonable levels. Not only has it forced residents to shoulder a larger portion of the community-building load, but it has led to the early steps of the municipality’s bid to diversify by attracting new jobs and industries.
Second, it has forced those secondary businesses that had attached themselves to the mill like a remora to a shark to diversify and find other sources of revenue as well. Finally, it has forced Catalyst and its workers to reassess themselves and their operation and become leaner, more focused and more dedicated.
Yes, optimism is not something easily turned off and on. That said, with this vote we can at least put our finger on the button.
— Cowichan News Leader Pictorial