New Brunswick

Doaktown mill closure will hurt region: mayor

The mayor of Doaktown says the temporary closure of the sawmill this winter will have a negative impact on the entire region, but it could be worse.

The mayor of Doaktown says the temporary closure of the sawmill this winter will have a negative impact on the entire region.

But it could be worse; it could be a permanent closure, said Charles Stewart.

J.D. Irving Ltd. announced Tuesday it plans to shut down the Doaktown sawmill between Dec. 23 and Feb. 13, 2012.

The mill is the village's main employer with 115 hourly employees.

"The mill is enlarging its wood yard to make room for continued deliveries from its own forestry operations and from private woodlot owners," said Stewart.

"It'll affect the whole surrounding area because people work at that mill from Boiestown to Blackville," said Stewart. "So it's not only affecting Doaktown. It's the whole community."

Still, Stewart is trying to focus on the positive.

"It's devastating news when you're not expecting it, but it could have been worse, as I say. It could have been a shut down that would never re-open," he said.

"This is the only industry we got here, is the mill," said Murray Betts, a Doaktown resident.

"We heard that before, like, two months could be six months, a year. Things happen. Like, but, we don't have anything else here. This is it for this community so it's going to hit it hard."

J.D. Irving Ltd. is also closing its sawmill in Kedgwick over the winter, between Dec. 2 and next spring.

That closure will see 57 hourly employees laid off.

Company spokeswoman Mary Keith said poor market conditions are to blame for the closures.

She said wood deliveries will continue to both mills during the down-time for processing when operations resume.

The closures will have no impact on the woodlands operations that support the mills, Keith said.

The forestry giant previously announced plans to close the Deersdale mill near Juniper and the mill in Clair.

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