There was bad news and good news in Merritt this week.
Tolko Industries announced Sept. 22 that it will permanently close its doors at its Merritt mill on Dec. 16.
The closure will deliver a heavy blow to the Interior community with a direct loss of more than 200 jobs.
Tolko president and CEO Brad Thorlakson indicated in a press release that the shutdown is the result of the province’s recent reduction to the annual allowable cut.
The closure of the mill will see the removal of 250 million board feet of capacity from the lumber market.
A few days later, however, Merritt Green Energy Limited Partnership announced Merritt will be the site of a new 40 megawatt, biomass-fired power plant for BC Hydro.
The project will create about 250 jobs during the construction phase and some 80 new direct and indirect jobs during the plant’s 30-year operation.
The plant will use state-of-the-art emissions reduction equipment and will burn mainly local sawmill waste, but fuel could also come from roadside debris — otherwise known as slash piles in logging areas — although that will be used as a last resort, they said.
In Williams Lake, we are hearing that another community movement is ramping up to try to stop Atlantic Power’s bid to burn rail ties in the lakecity.
That group is concerned about the burning of rail ties in our valley and, also, that wood waste is not being utilized in our area’s forests where as much as 30 per cent is left behind in slash piles.
We wonder if Merritt’s new biomass power plant plans to give Atlantic Power a run for its money by picking up rail ties when its wood waste debris runs out?
– Williams Lake Tribune