PORT ALICE, B.C. – North Island MLA Claire Trevena said the mass layoff at the Neucel mill in Port Alice is a crushing blow for the community.

“The village of Port Alice has already been devastated by the ups and downs of the mill closing, right back from 2004,” Trevena said.

“This last year it has had added problems with the mill not paying for taxes, which means that the community hasn’t been able to keep its arena open, so the community has been suffering for many years. This is one more problem that it is facing and working through.”

All the employees at the Neucel mill received lay-off notices on Wednesday, and the decision will impact much of the village, with the mill making up 70 per cent of the community’s property tax revenues.

“Obviously I’m very disappointed by the news that the company couldn’t make payroll,” Trevena said. “I’ve been working with the union and the community for many years in trying to ensure that the mill can restart.”

Trevena said it’s a constant battle, adding that she is continuing to work with the community and the union to ensure that there is “some certainty” for Port Alice residents.

The layoffs were a commercial decision by the mill owners and is out of the province’s hands, Trevena noted.

“What we have to do is see how we can help the community, help the workers there,” she said. “It’s something that I’ve been working on for many years. We have been working with the Ministry of Forests to make sure the mill would have access to fibre.”

If the mill closes down, Trevena said “we’ll be working with the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Communities to help the community. At the moment, we’re as much in limbo as everybody else for some better sign for the community.”