Mayoral candidate in Williams Lake, British Columbia, pledges to help Tolko restart Creekside sawmill if elected

WILLIAMS LAKE, British Columbia , November 18, 2011 () – Paul French, president of the local United Steelworkers union, says while he won’t endorse any candidate in the mayor’s race, he will support their plans if they include a focus on getting Tolko’s Creekside mill reopened.

And so far he’s not been disappointed.

On Monday, Scott Nelson called a press conference at the Steelworkers building and announced he would sit down with Tolko, the union, City officials, the provincial minister of forests, lands and natural resources operations and MP Dick Harris to look at both short- and long-term approaches to the operation.

Nelson said there should be a focus on increasing the fibre supply, bridge financing for employees, long-term pensions for employees, and stimulus for the company.

“The bottom line is looking at a commitment for Tolko to provide certainty to employees who have been on a yo yo and stretched to the max,” Nelson said.

On Sunday, mayoral candidate Walt Cobb issued a press release indicating if he becomes mayor he will “immediately” ask for a meeting with Tolko owners to discuss the future of Creekside operations.

Cobb said he would take the approach of meeting with owners to determine whether there is anything the City can do to assist them, which could include lobbying the province for fibre, expediting cutting permits, or addressing rail transportation issues.

Cobb added that if a solution can not be found to restart Creekside then employees must be given their notice.

Incumbent mayor Kerry Cook also weighed in on the issue saying that over the past two and a half years the City has worked with industry and government. However, Cook said the City can not create demand.

“We can not influence market demand or the price of lumber. I think it’s a matter of oversimplifying,” she said.

What the City can and is doing, she says, is having discussions with the provincial government on the issue and re-assessing the City’s current industrial tax rate.

“There are a lot of things outside our control. The City has definitely taken the steps to address the issues within our control.”

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