No deal for reduction plant in Prince Rupert as JS McMillan shuts down processing plant

Monday marked the end of an era in Prince Rupert as operations at JS McMillan’s fish processing plant ceased for good.

Monday marked the end of an era in Prince Rupert as operations at JS McMillan’s fish processing plant ceased for good just days after the final ship to offload at the facility pulled away from the dock.

“Right now we’re just cleaning up and preparing to ship the rest of the fish in cold storage down to Vancouver,” said Colin McMillan, JS McMillan’s general manager.

“The shutdown is going to affect about 82 employees, although we are going to continue to use about a dozen in the coming weeks as we winterize the facility and move some of the equipment out. But the contract with the union ended on October 31,” added acquiring manager Phil Young, noting that the decision to close the plant was a tough one for the company.

With the plant now closed, portions of the structure will be torn down for insurance reasons, and McMillan says the whole thing may come down in the future.

“Ultimately the plant is on leased property and part of that lease is that at the end of it the landlord, in this case the Prince Rupert Port Authority, can request the structure be demolished,” he explained.

“We do anticipate the structure will be demolished, but haven’t initiated that yet.”

While the processing plant is closed, the plan from the start was to keep the reduction plant operational after reaching an agreement with the fish processing companies and stakeholders in the community. However, such a deal has not been reached yet so the facility will be closed for the winter.

“We’re getting ready to winterize the reduction plant right now, which is new to us because we usually run a few shifts for the groundfish during the winter…But without that the plant could get mothballed during the winter,” said McMillan, adding that he is confident an agreement will be reached before the start of the salmon season in 2012.

“[Discussions] are going Ok. Everyone is committed to working this out and to continue to  operate the reduction plant because it is such an essential piece of infrastructure in Prince Rupert.”

Young added that there didn’t seem to be a sense of urgency among the stakeholders, since fish isn’t processed at the other plants during the winter months. However, Joy Thorkelson of the United Fishermen and Allied Worker’s Union said the effects of the closure are already being felt.

“I found out  [Saturday] that our ‘new work’ at Ocean (Royal) is going to have to stop because there is no where to put the offal. The Union has worked with  Oceans and made contract concessions in order to bring pollock and hake to  our Royal plant to process. For the past two weeks 50 Ocean Fish workers have been working on two shifts.  Management is very happy with the workers’ productivity. They are one third of the way through the promised tonnage and the  company was trying to source more fish. Now the company will offload the  fish here and send it south for processing. This means that not only the  100 jobs or so at the JS McMillan filleting operation are lost, but the 50 jobs at  Ocean will also be gone,” she said, adding that the lack of a deal is concerning.

“The question is why, after several months the rest of the Rupert processors have not made a deal to ensure that the reduction plant keeps open? Without the reduction plant the whole processing sector is at risk.  Once the companies make arrangements to process their fish ‘down south’ – Lower Mainland or even Portland Oregon – they get used to that routine and it is harder and harder for us to reclaim the work.”

Just Posted

Heart of Our City: Julie Enman shares tools of empowerment

Coast Mountain College instructor teaches carpentry and confidence in Prince Rupert and abroad

Intertidal Music Festival back for round two

More than 20 performances throughout the day at the North Pacific Cannery on July 21

MVP of the Week: “Forge”ing a soccer future in Prince Rupert

Men’s soccer coach wants to see soccer grow in Prince Rupert

From the English Channel to the BC Summer Games

Amber Ly is taking her experience aboard the tall ship Royalist with to Cowichan July 19-22

Exclusive: Jagmeet Singh on North Coast industry and fisheries

Video with federal NDP leader, who was in Prince Rupert on his northern B.C. tour

Rushbrook Trail officially open

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held on July 14 to officially unveil the new trail to the public

Newspaper carriers wanted!

Contact The Northern View today to find out how you can become a part of our team

B.C. VIEWS: Making private health care illegal again

Adrian Dix battles to maintain Cuba-style medical monopoly

Almost every part of Canada’s largest national park deteriorating: federal study

Drawing on decades of research — the report lists 50 pages of citations

Activists protest outside Kinder Morgan terminal in kayaks, canoes

Tsleil-Waututh elder Ta’ah Amy George led the water ceremony from a traditional Coast Salish canoe

Canadian soccer fans brace for World Cup final between France, Croatia

First ever final for the Croatians, while it’s France’s third, going into match as betting favourite

B.C. Lions claw their way back to score 20-17 victory over Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Bombers, who beat the Lions 41-19 last week in Edmonton, fell to 2-3 with the loss

High winds, lack of rain suggest no breaks in sight for B.C. wildfire season

There were 11 new wildfires across the province over 24 hours, BC Wildfire Service officials say

Former B.C. flight attendant protests sexual harassment outside YVR, asked to leave

Mandalena Lewis said she was handing out pamphlets outside YVR terminal when asked to leave

Most Read