Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian said he is excited about Kruger Inc. of Montreal purchasing the local pulp mill.
The Competition Bureau of Canada deemed the sale necessary after Paper Excellence bought Domtar last year. The bureau concluded that the merger would likely lessen competition for the purchase of wood fibre from the Thompson/Okanagan region.
Christian said the pulp mill, which is the city’s single-largest taxpayer and employs about 350 people, faced ownership uncertainty after Paper Excellence was required to sell the mill. He said he was in contact with a “number of people” in the bidding for the mill.
As Kruger emerges as the new owner, Christian said he is confident about the mill’s long-term viability.
“This is a Canadian company,” he said. “They’re one of the largest producers of paper towel and toilet paper, so there’s a market for some of the lower-end pulp but they also want to look at markets for the bigger, higher-end pulp. Traditionally, Weyerhaeuser and Domtar had been selling a lot of their pulp overseas and so, hopefully, this will be a more made-in-Canada solution.”
Christian pointed to Kruger’s existing presence in B.C., with a tissue plant in New Westminster and the Zeballos Lake Hydro Plant on Vancouver Island.
He said the sale is not only beneficial for Kamloops, but the region.
“The chip supply will be maintained through the region, so that is very beneficial for the forestry industry all around this central Interior,” he said.
Christian said he is planning to meet with Kruger in the next month and discuss taxation, projects and the future.
“One is the ring road that would allow mill access from the back end, rather than through downtown, and that’s an important one to me,” he said.
The operation pays about $5 million per year to the city in property taxes. The mill opened on Nov. 30, 1965, under the Kamloops Pulp and Paper Company name. In 1971, Weyerhaeuser bought the mill and operated it under that banner until 2007, when Domtar purchased the operation.
The Kamloops mill produces high-quality northern bleached softwood kraft pulp and unbleached softwood kraft for customers in North America and Asia.