January 31, 2020 By P&PC Staff
Northern Pulp officially shuts down today in Pictou County, Nova Scotia, and, starting Feb. 4, forestry contractors affected by the closure of the mill will be able to apply for the short-term repayable financing announced by the government of Nova Scotia last week.
About 300 workers at the mill have been directly affected by the closure, with an estimated 2,400 affected in the broader forestry sector.
The province is working with credit unions to deliver the financing program, announced as part of the $50-million forestry transition package, that helps forestry contractors with payments on their equipment loans on a short-term basis.
So far, the transition team responsible for the allocation of funds have earmarked $7 million for more silviculture and road work on both Crown land and private lands; $5 million for government to provide a guarantee for this financing program; $1.5 million to help workers from across the sector connect to customized programming in the skilled trades at no cost; and emergency assistance funding for laid-off workers available through local Access Nova Scotia centres.
Short-term financing eligibility
Eligible contractors include those who have been engaged in commercial forestry harvesting and trucking in Nova Scotia during the past 12 months and have external financing arrangements in place for at least one of the following classes of commercial forestry harvesting and trucking equipment: feller buncher, harvester, processor, forwarder, skidder, roundwood truck, or chip or hog fuel truck.
Qualifying contractors can access a line of credit worth up to three months of scheduled principal and interest payments on qualified commercial forestry equipment to a maximum of $180,000.
Within two years, the line of credit will convert to a loan with the term ending five years from the start of the line of credit. There is an option to renew for an additional five years, at the discretion of the lending credit union.
The maximum interest on any loan under this program is the Atlantic Central prime rate plus four per cent. The assistance is guaranteed by the province.
The program will be available through the 16 credit unions across the province that offer the Small Business Loan Guarantee Program. The two programs are separate, and the Forestry Contractor Financing Program will have a more simplified application process.
The program will be available for applications at the participating credit unions until June 30, 2020.
Wastewater deposits until April
The Boat Harbour Act takes effect today, legislating that Northern Pulp must stop using the Boat Harbour aerating lagoons for its effluent disposal. The mill does not have an approved replacement facility to continue operations.
Brian Baarda, CEO of Northern Pulp’s parent company Paper Excellence, says they will continue the process of getting a new wastewater system approved by fulfilling the province’s request for environmental assessment report, which could take up to two years to complete.
The province is allowing the mill to deposit wastewater from its winterization activities until the end of April, when the drainage pipe will be cleaned and capped.
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