Premier Darrell Dexter acted today, Dec. 2, to protect about 2,000 jobs affiliated with the Bowater Mersey pulp and paper mill in Queens County with a provincial investment in energy, innovation and productivity improvements at the facility. The investment is part of a larger effort to support the Liverpool mill and its workers, and will give the facility a new lease on life, the premier said. “I want to thank all those involved for their hard work and commitment to find an acceptable solution to this incredibly difficult situation,” said Premier Dexter. “This mill is a major employer on the South Shore, and throughout southwest Nova Scotia. If it closed permanently, it would be a devastating blow not only to the hundreds of workers and their families, but to the economy of the surrounding area and the entire province.” The investment includes a $25-million capital loan through the Nova Scotia Jobs Fund for a long-fibre refining project, which will reduce electricity consumption at the mill. The loan will also be used to build a topping turbine at the nearby Brooklyn Energy Power Plant, to produce additional renewable electricity. “We’re pleased to move forward and improve the competitive position of our paper mill in Nova Scotia,” said Richard Garneau, president and chief executive officer of Resolute Forest Products. “Today’s announcement would not have been possible without the hard work and determination of so many. In particular, I would like to recognize our employees for their willingness to bring important savings to the table, as well as the leadership of Premier Dexter and the quick response by his government. “Today’s developments demonstrate how much can be accomplished in a short period of time when parties are committed and work in a spirit of collaboration.” As part of its multi-million-dollar plan, the province has agreed to buy 25,000 acres of company-owned land, some of which may be used toward the province’s goal of 12 per cent protected lands by 2015. The total price of the land purchase is $23.7 million. Bowater Mersey will use those proceeds to help enhance the long-term sustainability of the paper mill. The land purchase will be finalized by March 31. The company has agreed to allow public access to some of its land, as requested by the province. The agreement also provides a five-year option to purchase an additional 50,000 acres of company-owned land. The agreement includes $1.5 million for workforce training through the Productivity Investment Program, part of jobsHere, the province’s plan for economic growth. This investment allows employees to upgrade their skills between 2012 and 2014, as a result of capital improvements to the mill. “It’s important to note that we would never have gotten to this point if the company hadn’t agreed to reconsider its position and work with the province on an alternative to closing down the mill,” said Premier Dexter. “I’m pleased that the company was able to turn a corner and is now recognizing what the province has known all along – that this mill can be a viable operation.” Further details of support for the mill include a new agreement with the union, a tax break from the Municipality of Queens and contributions from the Port of Halifax and Nova Scotia Power. Last month, employees at the mill voted 104-97 in favour of accepting concessions from the company, including layoffs, in an effort to try to keep the mill operating. “Our local members took the first step and made a very tough decision regarding their contract and manning levels,” said Charles Shewfelt, vice-president of the CEP, Atlantic Region. “It is good news that the government has been able to take the next step to give the mill a viable future.” “Everyone has a part to play in saving the Bowater mill,” the premier said. “People recognized that and stepped up to the plate. The province’s support is just one piece of the puzzle. This is a smart investment that protects thousands of rural jobs and helps keep a major player in the manufacturing and pulp and paper sector here in Nova Scotia for years to come.” The company has agreed to work with the province to explore further innovative measures to provide long-term, economically viable opportunities that support the mill and the local economy. This support is being provided to the pulp and paper mill alone, and is consistent with the softwood lumber agreement. Bowater Mersey is restructuring its separate Oakhill mill lumber operations to ensure that none of this support benefits softwood lumber production. The premier will soon introduce legislation supporting the province’s investment in the mill and its workers.
BROWSE Jose Bautista The baseball from Jose Bautista’s bat-flip home run has been sold for more than $28,000 at auction.Bidding on the ball from Bautista’s three-run homer in Toronto’s wild 6-3 victory over the Texas Rangers in Game 5 of the 2015 American League Division Series closed on Friday with a flurry of last minute bids within the final hours.The price rose from the reserve bid of US$3,500 on Jan. 4 to more than US$14,000 four weeks later.In the final hour of the auction, the final four bids pushed the selling price from US$16,081 to US$28,252.80 – or almost $37,000 Canadian.The final bid ended up being US$23,544 but under rules of the auction, anyone who submitted a bid on the ball before that 10 p.m. deadline was entitled to re-bid in a 30-minute exclusive window.“We were really surprised by the price on this one,” Lelands co-founder Josh Evans told CityNews.“It was mostly Canadians bidding,” said Evans. “I think there was a certain patriotism to it.”Evans would not disclose the name of the winning bidder, saying only “the eventual buyer was Canadian.”That is good news for the anonymous Canadian consignor who was hoping the ball would stay north of the border.“When it gets to that high-dollar amount, I hope there’s somebody in Canada that sees the importance of it being here,” said the spokesperson for the small group that owns the ball. “We made the decision to take some of the money and make a donation to Robbie Alomar’s foundation. We want to keep the ball safe here and if not, we’re going to give some money to them and let them do what they do.“But I hope a big business or a big CEO steps up and buys it and puts it on display for the fans. That’s what we really want. We want it to come back here and let the fans see it.”Bautista’s seventh-inning home run won the ALDS for Toronto and became entrenched in Blue Jays lore when it was punctuated by his notorious bat flip.The now famous bat is kept in a glass case in Toronto’s clubhouse in a foyer between the manager’s office and the players’ locker-room. The bat was on display for fans to see at the Blue Jays WinterFest that was held Jan. 19 and 20 at Rogers Centre, but the ball’s location remained private until it went up for auction on Jan. 4.Alomar’s Foundation 12 helps youth baseball players in Canada with financial assistance, program support, and educational opportunities. Alomar, who was the second baseman for Toronto’s World Series championship teams in 1992 and 1993, is the only player to wear a Blue Jays cap into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.“(Foundation 12) does some amazing work with young people in baseball, special needs people,” said the consignor. “Robbie was the greatest Blue Jay of all time, he’s a Hall of Famer, he’s a wonderful guy, we know him a little bit just from being at different events.“They do some amazing work.”Bautista is currently a free agent after leaving Toronto in 2017 and playing for the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies in 2018. His 288 home runs are second all-time in Blue Jays franchise history behind Carlos Delgado’s 336.