Paper Excellence officially acquired Catalyst Paper at an announcement at the Crofton Mill.

With the acquisition, Paper Excellence expands its capacity which now includes printing paper, specialty and packing papers, and increased pulp production.

Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley said the Crofton Mill is vital to the community and he has a personal connection to the facility.

“So many of my friends work here, have worked here, their parents have worked here, it’s been an ever-present symbol of what this valley is; sustainable forest industry,” said Routley. “It has become better and better at being sustainable. Forty percent less water consumption now, then when I was a kid.”

BC Premier John Horgan said coastal mills in Crofton, Port Alberni, and Powell River means jobs to British Columbians and are vitally important.

“Sixteen hundred direct jobs here and in Powell River and in Port Alberni and about another four thousand jobs that are dependent on these mills being operational, that’s a big deal in our coastal economy, it’s a big deal in those communities,” said Horgan.

Horgan said new policies are meant to keep raw logs in the province and that’s going to result in more value-added, more jobs, and more usable fibre locally.

“We’ve brought in (as recently as January) new policies to restrict raw log exports, so that we can keep our logs here in BC, creating jobs for British Columbians,” said Horgan. “There is a significant challenge about getting fibre for the Crofton mill and other mills. If we stop raw log exports and see more value-added in our forest products, we’re going to create more jobs, we’ll be more efficient, and there will be more fibre for Crofton to operate.”

Routley said steps have been taken to ensure a smooth transition.

“We’ve been working closely with Paper Excellence, we took steps to prevent the break-up of Catalyst, we took steps to put the pensioners first, which applied a huge cost to breaking the company up and it prepared it to be taken over in a healthy way, where the mills will keep running.”

Catalyst manufactures 1.3 million tonnes of pulp and paper products, including northern bleached softwood kraft pulp, industrial packaging, food service, coated ground-wood, newsprint, and directory papers.

Along with the three mills, Paper Excellence has also acquired the Surrey distribution centre and the headquarters in Richmond.