Mill workers in The Pas approve pension deal, mayor remains hopeful

Mill employees in The Pas have voted in favour of allowing potential buyers of the town's kraft paper mill a break from pension solvency payments.

Employees at Tolko Industries have given the OK to a three-year pension exemption for potential buyer

Tolko employees have approved a deal to give potential new buyers of The Pas' mill a break from making pension solvency payments for three years. (Sean Kavanagh/CBC)

Mill employees in The Pas have voted in favour of allowing potential buyers of the town's kraft paper mill a break from pension solvency payments.

The Manitoba government offered the mill's prospective buyer, American Industrial Acquisition Corporation, a three-year break from the payments last month, which are used to top up pension funds.

Now employees, who will receive the pensions, have given the deal the OK.

The Pas Mayor Jim Scott said the deal is the first good news for the town in months.

"It's just a remarkably great, great thing," Scott said.

In August, Tolko Industries, the company that owns the paper mill, announced it was closing leaving 300 people out of work.

The news came shortly after some 80 railway workers in The Pas found out there were being laid off after the Port of Churchill announced it was closing. 

The Pas faced another blow when a casino in the town announced it was looking to pull out of the community.

The town had also had more bad news last month when an IGA said it would close leaving 47 people out of work and a community with one less grocery store.

"Ever since the middle of July it's almost like they've been putting out a 'This town is closed sign,'" Scott said.

"It was just unbelievable what was going on.... Our efforts are really, really focused on trying to turn this ship around."

Scott said the town still needs to wait for an official announcement from American Industrial Acquisition Corporation, but he is hopeful the deal will go through.

"All of the checkmarks are in all the boxes," Scott said.