Chips go in to start pulp making product at the Zellstoff Celgar plant in Castlegar which observed its 50th anniversary on July 22.

Chips go in to start pulp making product at the Zellstoff Celgar plant in Castlegar which observed its 50th anniversary on July 22.

Celgar salutes half-centennial

Large crowds converge... tour plant

 

 

With coffee by the gallon and pancakes by the hundreds (not to mention fantastic weather) the turnout at the Zellstoff Celgar pulp mill on July 23 was tremendous.The occasion was the 50th anniversary of the industrial powerhouse – a cornerstone of the local economy since it’s construction a half-century ago.This was a day for welcoming the public to the location where more than 400 people work, getting them decked out in hardhats and safety vests and taking guided tours through the impressive, and massive complex.Following a festive breakfast, timely verbal presentations were delivered by some key people prior to the tours setting out.”Celgar and Castlegar, it’s a partnership. This is the future of the community,” stated Castlegar Mayor Lawrence Chernoff. “It’s the future for jobs to bring the young people back to the community.”Jimmy Lee took the podium long enough to make some points as well. Lee is the chairman and CEO of Mercer International, owners of Castlegar’s dominant industrial facility since 2005.”I’m very happy to be here with you today for this milestone,” said Lee, “which comes at a time when the future of the mill looks very bright.” The chairman/also acknowledged the times when economic and infrastructure issues added up to a scenario not quite as favourable as the present one.”Probably the most significant threat to the mill came from the global economic downturn in 2008,” he said.”Since we purchased the mill in 2005 we have not been shy about making additional investments, designed to address occupational and safety issues.”Positive statements were also made by Cherie Hanvold, managing director of financial administration; Al Hitzroth, managing director of operations; IT manager Mike Harwood; and Don Paul, president of Pulp Paper and Wookworkers of Canada Local 1.Following the presentations it was tour time as hundreds of members of the public took the opportunity to take in a guided tour.Many thanks to Lab Supervisor Ian Johnson for taking me and Vox Communications Consultant Cate Korinth on our very well guided and informed tour of this colossal facility.