NORTH LAKE ‚ÄĒ The announcement that Ocean Pride will re-open its fish plant in North Lake this spring has been warmly received in Kings County, after a series of body blows left the area reeling last year.
Ocean Pride announced Wednesday it was re-opening its plant in May, and will stay open until October.
The plant announced in February 2011 it would not open that season, attributing the closure to the global economic recession. That left more than 100 workers without jobs.
Two months later, the huge Ocean Choice International plant in Souris announced it was closing, throwing hundreds more out of work.
North Lake resident Richard Rose worked for Ocean Pride from 2004 to 2010. He said Ocean Pride, which is based out of Wedgeport, N.S., would be welcomed back.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs certainly needed in the community, that‚Äôs for sure.‚ÄĚ
Rose‚Äôs boss called him after the 2010 season to say the plant wasn‚Äôt opening the following year, he said.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs obviously an issue when something like that happens, for sure, but you just have to get out and look for another job, that‚Äôs all.‚ÄĚ
Rose said Ocean Pride‚Äôs return would help displaced workers from Eastern Kings to come and work closer to home.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôll help workers from North Lake to Souris, and I‚Äôm sure they‚Äôll be glad to get it back.‚ÄĚ
Mike McGeoghegan, president of the P.E.I. Fishermen‚Äôs Association, said fishers were concerned when Ocean Pride shut down its operations early in 2011.
‚ÄúWhen they first closed, the people were losing their jobs and thinking ‚Äėwhat are we gonna do?‚Äô and it‚Äôs a displacement of workers, so there‚Äôs always concern when a plant closes like that.‚ÄĚ
McGeoghegan said Ocean Pride would need to pay their workers better than they were before.
‚ÄúAs long as they pay the fishermen well, there won‚Äôt be any problem at all.‚ÄĚ
The North Lake operation‚Äôs re-opening is a good sign for the community, McGeoghegan said.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs good to see that they‚Äôre up and running,
and hopefully they‚Äôll do good.‚ÄĚ
Souris-Elmira Conservative MLA Colin LaVie spoke with some fishermen Wednesday evening, and he said the consensus regarding Ocean Pride was positive. ‚ÄúThe community welcomes back the Ocean Pride plant, and the jobs and economic spinoffs that the re-opening of the plant will bring. It‚Äôs a positive feeling.‚ÄĚ
LaVie said it‚Äôs a step in the right direction for the local economy.
‚ÄúSome people believe it‚Äôs a start, but not the whole solution to the job shortage up in Eastern Kings. It‚Äôs a good start, don‚Äôt get me wrong, but the consensus is that they‚Äôre welcoming the plant back.‚ÄĚ
LaVie said the economic spinoffs resulting from Ocean Pride‚Äôs return would work for everybody.
‚ÄúOnce people start working and the money starts circulating, everybody gets a piece of it. When the other businesses pick up, they‚Äôll start hiring too.‚ÄĚ
Rose said the same.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm just hoping things will go right for them,‚ÄĚ he said.
LaVie reiterated the community‚Äôs positive outlook toward Ocean Pride‚Äôs return to North Lake.
‚ÄúThere‚Äôs a light at the end of the tunnel.‚ÄĚ