Ottawa

Domtar to close historic Gatineau mill, Ottawa plant

Montreal-based pulp and paper giant Domtar Inc. is permanently closing its historic Gatineau, Que., paper mill, and its converting centre in nearby Ottawa, putting about 250 people out of work, the company announced Tuesday.

250 jobs lost in region; U.S. mill closures to cut 180 more jobs

Montreal-based pulp and paper giant Domtar Inc. is permanently closing its historic Gatineau, Que., paper mill, and its converting centre in nearby Ottawa, puttingabout 250 people out of work, the company announced Tuesday.

"Sadly … we’re turning a page here in one slice of history for the Ottawa-Gatineau, Ottawa-Hull area," said Domtar vice-president Michel Rathier of the 150-year-old mill,formerly owned by E.B. Eddy,on the north side of the Chaudières Bridge.

The mill, taken over by Domtar nine years ago,is the lastto closeamonghalf a dozen pulp, paperand sawmills near theChaudières rapidsthatonce played a big role intheregion's economy.

It and the Ottawa facility are to cease operations by Oct. 27, said a Domtar news release.

The company is also shutting downmills in Baileyville, Maine, and Port Edwards, Wis., eliminating another180 jobs, it said.

"The driving forces behind this decision to permanently close these operations are excess capacity and cost competitiveness," president and CEO Raymond Royer said in a statement, adding that the company may implement "further rationalization" in the near future.

High dollar, energy costs a factor: Domtar

The company also blamed the high Canadian dollar, the high cost of energy and transportation, and the declining demand for pulp and paper products because of the internet.

Paul Coffey, who has spent 34 years working at the Gatineau paper plant,saidthe companycalled him at 6 a.m. and asked him to come to a general meeting at a Hull hotel.

At that point, he said, he fearedmanagement might call for a wage rollback or announce that the company had been sold.

"The worst … turned out to be true," he said.

Theclosure of the historic plant marksa sad day for theOttawa area, said Dave Coles, president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, which represents the plant's workforce.

"This town was a forestry town. It was built on pulp and paper, on sawmilling," he said.

"And the powers that be have just said it’s not important to us anymore— we’re just going to let it go. [It's] historically sad and it’s sad for the community."

Bowater'sGatineaupaper plant remains open.

Domtar became the largest manufacturer of uncoated and freesheet paper in North America and the second largest in the world when it merged with Weyerhaeuser Co.last August.

It made major job cuts and plant closures before and after the merger.

In November 2005, it cut 1,800 jobs, including all the jobs at itsformer Cornwall mill and many at its Ottawa facility.

Last October, it closed three sawmills in Quebec and one in Ontario, and also laid off 450 forestry workers.

The company currently employs almost 14,000 people.

Corrections

  • Domtar's Gatineau facility is a paper mill, not a pulp mill as originally reported.
    Aug 01, 2007 9:15 AM ET

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