Nova Scotia

Sawmill workers question future after Bowater purchase

Workers at the idled Oakhill Sawmill are anxious for answers after the business was left out of the province's purchase of the shuttered Bowater-Mersey paper mill and thousands of hectares of woodlands.

Oakhill Sawmill was not included in the province's deal

Resolute Forest Products has no interest in operating the sawmill again. (CBC)

Workers at the idled Oakhill Sawmill are anxious for answers after the business was left out of the province's purchase of the shuttered Bowater-Mersey paper mill and thousands of hectares of woodlands.

The deal between Nova Scotia and Resolute Forest Products was announced Monday.

The province didn't buy the sawmill because doing so could spark retaliation from the United States over softwood lumber agreements.

"I've lived across the road from the sawmill for 28 years, and I kind of assumed it would be part of the deal," said John Robart, the local fire chief.

The mill went idle last summer, throwing 125 employees out of work. The people who worked there told CBC News that all the equipment is less than 10 years old, and the facility is the most efficient in Nova Scotia.

Even so, Resolute Forest Products said it has no interest in ever operating the mill again.

"Basically, you look at the market conditions and several other factors that were accounted in the decision to idle it in the first place - these factors have not changed," said Pierre Choquette, a spokesperson for the company. "We're looking at some scenarios but we'll take our time."

But patience is running thin for the families in need of work.

"Tell us now," said Kathy Moore, whose husband used to work at the sawmill. "Let them decide what they want do - if they want to take upgrading, if they want to try to get into some kind of trades. Either do something or tell us now."