Port Alberni Mayor tells Western Forest Products to re-open Somass mill, or sell it

The Mayor of Port Alberni is taking on a forestry giant.   Mike Ruttan is calling on Western Forest Products to sell its Somass Mill property -- closed indefinitely last summer -- or re-open it.

Ruttan says the forest company has gained wealth from the crown-owned resources in the region, and now those resources are languishing and people are out of work:

" And yes, I recognize that Western Forest Products owns that site. But I also recognize that Western Forest Products has a basic responsibility to use the fiber in this area to the benefit of the people in this area."

A Langley company -- The San Group -- is interested in buying the property for a manufacturing operation, but can't get a meeting with the forest company.  Ruttan is willing to attend a meeting with both companies -- and wants the Province involved as well:

" The provincial government has a role to play in this as well. We need the provincial government to come to the table and assist the process.  I've met with Minister Donaldson 4 times since the beginning of August , and we need to carry on with this conversation."

For its part a Western Forest Products spokesperson says no final decision has been made on the Somass Mill's future, and it won't comment on property sale rumours.

The mayor adds lack of production is also jeopardizing an area paper mill that provides $650-million a year in economic activity.

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