Celebrate with Celgar this weekend
2011 marks the 50th anniversary for the Celgar pulpmill. To celebrate this historic milestone, Zellstoff Celgar invites kids and adults alike to take a guided tour of the mill. Tours will be offered three times a day, from July 18 to 22. Space is limited, so please book ahead by calling 250-365-4238.
Zellstoff Celgar will also be hosting an evening of Music in the Park at the Pass Creek Exhibition Grounds featuring local bands BC/DC and Roxy, starting at 6 p.m. on Saturday. Admission is free but you are encouraged to bring a donation for the Community Harvest Food Bank.
Concession stands will be open with food and beverages for purchase, but no alcohol is allowed on the grounds for this family-friendly event.
The Zellstoff Celgar pulp mill is 50 years old this year. When it was constructed in 1961, it was the first of its kind in the interior of B.C.. Modernized in 1993, the Celgar mill is one of the largest and most modern single line pulp mills in producing Northern Bleached Softwood Kraft (NBSK) pulp.
Celgar was purchased by Mercer International in 2005. Mercer is one of the worlds largest producers of market NBSK pulp with a combined annual capacity of approximately 1.5 million tonnes. Mercer has invested in excess of $100 million in the mill, primarily in areas of fibre supply, cost efficiency and green energy production.
By Canadian standards, 50 years is a long time in the life of a kraft pulp mill. Many mills in have shut down during that same time. Resilience through reinvestment has been one of Celgar’s hallmarks. The mill’s massive modernization in 1993 combined with Mercer’s investment has totaled more than $950 million in mill improvements over the past two decades. These improvements have made them one of the most modern pulp mills in Canada today. At the same time, they have increased the mill’s pulp and energy production and also improved the mill’s environmental performance.
“This is an occasion to celebrate what we’ve achieved over the last 50 years. We’ve been an integral part of Castlegar and the surrounding communities and plan to continue as a major employer and economic engine for the West Kootenay,” says Cherie Hanvold, Managing Director of Finance and Administration.
The idea of building a pulp mill in the began in 1951, when the Celgar Development Company (Celgar Limited) began researching the feasibility of building a mill on the old Yale-Columbia Sawmill site in Westley, very near where the mill sits today.
After securing the largest-ever BC Interior Tree Farm License (TFL No. 23) in 1955, construction of the mill began in March 1958. Construction was completed by the spring of 1961 and 300 new and permanent employees began the process of starting up the mill. Over 400 employees work at the mill today.
In the fall of 1962, many of those employees were instrumental in founding Local #1 of the Canadian Pulp and Paper Workers Union (CPPW), the predecessor of the Pulp and Paper Workers of Canada (PPWC) union that represents hourly workers at the mill today.
Today, Zellstoff Celgar is poised for even greater success. With last year’s launch of the $64 million Green Energy Project, the mill produces enough green energy to power its own operations and more. Surplus electricity is exported to homes and businesses throughout through BC Hydro’s grid.
“We are very proud of the achievements at Celgar. We experienced a rough patch in 2009 but, with the work on our fibre supply, green energy production and employee engagement we look to the future with great optimism,” says Jimmy Lee, Mercer International President and CEO.
“Zellstoff Celgar is thankful to all of its employees past and present, and the residents and businesses of Castlegar and area for their support over the past 50 years.”