Dalhousie, N.B. residents foresee bright future
Published Thursday, November 8, 2012 4:38PM AST
Last Updated Thursday, November 8, 2012 6:09PM AST
The resource-based town of Dalhousie, N.B. is still picking up the pieces left behind after the closure of two of its largest employers.
However, many community members say that with a little hard work and planning, they see a bright future for the town.
The AbitibiBowater pulp and paper mill shut its doors in 2008, leaving roughly 500 people without jobs.
Just two months later the Olin Corp. chemical plant added another 100 people to the unemployment ranks after it shut down.
“These were the two biggest major industry for the economy of the town of Dalhousie, and not only Dalhousie, but the region as a whole,” says Mayor Clem Tremblay.
He says the closures left the community vulnerable in many ways.
“For 75-plus years, there was no need of thinking out of the box, of saying ‘Well, what could we do if the mill closed?’ You never thought of that.”
Today, almost five years later, it’s a different story.
“We don’t believe at all that it is a dying town,” says Rachel Hache, a member of Dalhousie’s welcoming committee.
Hache says 60 new families recently moved to the community – roughly half of which are between the ages of 25 and 40.
“It was an industrial town, but it is not anymore,” she says. “So, it is giving us the opportunity to create whatever we want, and we have every reason to be optimistic.”
Kevin Lawlor once worked at the chemical plant but today he owns a dollar store. He says sales are strong and the store is expanding. A second location also opened.
“We started out with a small store, about 1,400 square feet,” says Lawlor. “Then, a few years ago, in 2010, we expanded here, to about 3,500 square feet.”
Lawlor isn’t the only one making a splash in the town.
Three sisters are doing laps in the community pool as a fundraiser for the SPCA. The sisters have been overwhelmed by the town’s pull-together attitude.
“I don’t think we had to ask for money,” says fundraiser Norma Andersen. “They were coming and donating it and offering it. It was terrific. It was unbelievable. Everybody wanted to help.”
That can-do attitude seems to be the new attitude in a town that refuses to get left behind.
“If everything goes the way it is, I think in the next three to five to seven years, we could be back on our feet,” says Tremblay.
“And hey, you know, we could be talking in memories, ‘Oh yeah, remember the mill?’ But there now today, here we are, and that is where we want to go.”
With files from CTV Atlantic's David Bell