County council will send a letter to Premier Stephen McNeil asking for financial support to contractors hit by the pending closure of Northern Pulp.
The motion was brought forth by Counc. David Parker, who said the intention is to ask the province to allocate some of the so-called transition funds to contractors who face high payments on expensive forestry equipment, which can cost millions of dollars to purchase. The motion was passed by near-unanimous consent.
That way, council says, they would have financial assistance to physically transport their machines to other parts of the country, should they need to sell their equipment, some of which can cost tens of thousands of dollars to transport.
Parker said the market is soft here in this region, but not elsewhere in Canada.
“There’s 50 million dollars out there. I don’t know how it’s going to be divvied up (but) I think we should be thinking of helping those who are going to hurt the most, the soonest. And that’s why I wanted it out there.”
The only councillor to vote against the motion was Debbie Wadden, who said the council “shouldn’t be cherry-picking” which groups to support.
“We have a lot of groups, a lot of residents in the county that will be hurt,” Wadden said following the meeting.
“I really think we should be going through the process and working with the province. There’s going to be a lot of groups that will need help.”
But Chester Dewar said there are contractors with big ticket equipment items who have to “pay the mortgage, the bank loans, and maybe they have kids in university” and said he supported the motion.
While a few councillors expressed concerns about all that forestry equipment leaving the province, Parker said his motion would provide another option “to the fellow that is really up against it.”
The pulp mill situation dominated the council meeting on Jan. 6, as all councillors weighed in on not just Parker’s motion, but the effects that the mill’s closure might have on the economy.
Northern Pulp pays taxes to the Municipality of Pictou County to the tune of roughly $300,000 every year, Parker said. For a municipality that works with a budget of around $16 million, that’s a significant chunk of change.
“It’d be less money for fewer services,” Parker said.