Anxiety grips Espanola after the announcement of the closure

Anxiety grips Espanola after the announcement of the closure

Domtar is idling its Espanola pulp and paper operations, operating in early October, with the paper machines being shut down in early November for a period of one year.

“Traffic stopped” when news came earlier this week that Domtar planned to idle the Espanola-based pulp and paper operation.

So explained a local hairdresser, who asked not to be named.

Although his comments to may be hyperbolic, he said there has been a noticeable change in people’s attitudes as they deal with potentially dangerous news.

Espanola’s 2021 Statistics Canada population was 5,185, and approximately 450 Domtar workers will be directly affected by the pulp mill operation. visited Espanola Saturday afternoon to hear about how community members are handling the news, and how they predict it will affect their town.

“A lot of people are going to be put down, not just at the mill but everywhere,” Cortina Restaurant head waiter Christa Campbell told while pouring wine for customers.

“We’re probably going to see a lot of young families move in, and it’s going to be an older community — a retirement community.”

Born and raised in Espanola, Campbell, 48, said her husband worked at the mill until he retired, her son works there, and various friends and family all come into the Domtar mill.

It is the largest single employer in the community, and the community’s history has been intertwined with pulp and paper production, emerging as a company-owned town.

Domtar acquired the mill during the takeover of EB Eddy in 1998.

Campbell said he is not sure what to make of the mill’s closing. The Domtar report indicated that the company could be sold or restarted at some point, but uncertainty remains.

“It’s sudden and shocking,” he said.

A few blocks down Center Street to the north, Jenna Gaspardo, 16, was found working behind the cash register at Creed 4 You, her family’s small gift shop.

At the school, he said teachers were talking about closing schools at some point in the future, and there was talk of Espanola becoming a “ghost town” as people started moving to Sudbury.

His mother, Nicole, reached by phone, is less optimistic.

“It’s the gateway to Manitoulin,” he said. “We have to spend money on this.”

The Gaspardo family moved to Espanola from southern Ontario about two years ago, drawn to the area by its natural beauty and small-town atmosphere.

They opened the gift shop in January, and since then Nicole said business has grown steadily.

The closure of the mill will definitely affect people, Nicole said, describing it as “sad” news for many in the community.

It will not die, however, Espanola, he said, noting that people will find new sources of income due to the love of the region and economic necessity.

“I don’t see where people are going to end up in today’s economy,” he said. Whatever house they sell here, they will have to buy it at a higher price somewhere else.”

Currently lacking organizations such as a local business development center or chamber of commerce, he said communities can take any number of new steps to help boost their economic future. He plans to contact the town’s elected officials to help expedite the plan.

“We have to run this town,” Nicole said. “We have to see if we can draw on some kind of big industry.”

Outside his family’s shop, a slow flow of traffic was seen coming down Central Street, in the heart of Espanola. The city’s main attraction is also part of Route 6, which connects the Trans-Canada Highway to Manitoulin Island.

Although many people pass through on their way to Manitoulin Island, Nicole said, “people will come to Espanola if they have something to offer people.”

A block east of the Venture Lanes Bowling alley, married couple Don and Catherine Drouin were found standing behind the front desk while the family bowled in one of the lanes, the sound of crunching nails cutting through the background of ’80s pop music playing overhead. stereo.

“The town won’t be closed,” Don said with a shrug. Something is going to happen.

The couple moved to Espanola about eight years ago from Whitehorse, to be closer to family. The bowling alley they took over was a success from the start, until the pandemic slowed things down.

Business is still booming, although Catherine said she is concerned that the closure of the mill will have a negative impact on small businesses throughout the region.

As people find work in places like Sudbury, he said it’s unlikely they’ll want to leave for long.

At Espanola’s Sukhdev Restaurant, owners and brothers Amrit and Gurprett Singh responded to last week’s Domtar news by offering a 20-percent discount to the families of mill workers, encouraging other business owners to follow suit and help wherever they can.

An immigrant from India, Amrit said Espanola has always been welcoming and supportive of the Indian community at large.

“Everybody feels sad, so we wanted to do something for them,” he told “This is all I can do.”

With the effects of the economic downturn expected to affect the wider community in the coming months, Amrit said times could be tough for many residents for some time.

Union workers at Domtar’s Espanola pulp and paper mill joined the wider community in protesting last week’s news, which aired on September 6.

Of the 450 jobs affected, Unifor said a handful of workers will need to keep the mill running during this time.

“Losing this many jobs for a year or more will have an impact on the entire community, so we hope the shutdown ends soon,” Unifor Local 74 president Chris Presley said in a news release. “For now, we are focused on supporting employees through this transition.”

Elected officials of the Town of Espanola will also address the closure of the mill road.

“As a third-generation family worker (a common story in our plant) in Espanola, I, too, share the difficulties we are currently facing,” Coun. Jonathan Nadeau posted on social media.

“It’s hard to see now, but there is life beyond Domtar, and we will all cross this bridge together.”

Northern Ontario Business Editor Ian Ross recently contacted Mayor Douglas Gervais, who visited mill workers at the plant’s entrance for the 6 a.m. shift on September 7.

“They’re in bad shape,” Gervais said. Like everyone else, it came suddenly.

Like many in Espanola, Gervais, a lifelong resident, has a personal connection to the mill. He worked there from 1970 to 1973, like his father. His brother, nephews and grandson still work there.

“We’ll survive it, we have to, it’s part of life and you move on,” he said. “Espanola will be here, and it will not break us. … I feel confident that we will get through this.”

Fortunately, he said, there are jobs around. The Interfor timber factory in nearby Nairn Center is always looking for workers as is the mining industry.

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for

– and files from

#Anxiety #grips #Espanola #announcement #closure

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *