The Tolko sawmill in Kelowna is now officially closed

Tolko Kelowna

There's no going back now.

The Tolko sawmill in Kelowna is officially closed. The company chose January 8th as the date to make it final.

Steelworkers local President Pat McGregor says emotions among the former workers ran high.

"Absolutely, it's no longer a sawmill town anymore. We're getting into the big city kind of thing. So it's sad after 80 plus years to not have a mill."

McGregor says the history of the sawmill has deep roots. Fathers and sons worked there, brothers, even a few sisters made their careers around processing raw logs into lumber.

McGregor adds, over and above the loss of employment, the workers are lamenting the fact they didn't know that their last shift was actually going to be their last shift.

"There's a lot of friendships. You spend your working life with somebody and they become part of your family. That opportunity to have a big day, that's it, they never got to do that. And. that's one of the things we're hearing from our membership."

McGregor says more of the displaced workers have found alternate employment but not everyone. The Steelworkers union continues to work with government to find viable opportunities.