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N.S. manufacturer devastated by wildfire calls for provincial support

It took years for the MacKay family to build its company, Moulding Warehouse, from the ground up.

It had just upgraded some of the equipment in its plant a week before the May 28 wildfire tore through the area, reducing the facility to rubble and ash.

“To come here and look at it has been very devastating and emotional,” says MacKay as she stands on the burned-out site.

Power poles that were once brand-new now appear to stand precariously, chunks of the wood eaten away by the fire.

“We're still paying our employees, most of them, there was a few we had to lay off,” she says.

Mackay says the plant used to churn out 10,000 feet of moulding every day, in a province struggling to keep up with the demand for housing.

“And now that's not being made, so that is going to have a trickling effect on the rest of the industry, and all Nova Scotians,” she says, “so it’s going to drive prices up, so that’s why we are determined to get back up and running very quickly, but we need help.”

Monday, the province announced a grant of $2,500 for small businesses impacted by mandatory evacuations during the wildfires.

Government says it's received 320 applications as of Friday.

In its news release, the Premier’s Office and the Department of Economic Development included manufacturers under the list of eligible businesses.

But MacKay says regardless, Moulding Warehouse did not fit the criteria

“We fell through the cracks on that one,” she says.

Now, she's spending every waking moment trying to see what can be recovered through insurance, a long and arduous process.

“They're a company that has a client base that represents 80 per cent of contractors, and we know how strained the housing market is already,” says Hammonds Plains-Lucasville Liberal MLA Ben Jessome.

He says the province needs to do more to support business owners who don’t qualify for the wildfire relief money.

“We need to be more intentional about supporting these businesses and business owners,” he says.

Government spokesperson Carley Sampson says in an email that officials “understand there are many other businesses who’ve been significantly impacted by these wildfires, including those who’ve had to close their businesses unexpectedly when they’d otherwise be open. We’ve been working together with the business communities in the affected areas to better understand the ongoing impacts to their operations and to identify further needs for support.”

“We're going need some funding, the machinery now is 75 per cent more, the cost of it, so to replace what we had? There's no money flowing to us now I can tell you that,” says MacKay.

She is determined to get the business up and running again.

With 151 homes destroyed in the Tantallon fire, she says her business will be crucial as those families also try to rebuild.

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