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Tolko Industries closing causes financial distress for The Pas people

If you want to catch the mood in The Pas, stake out the front of the Canada Post building.

People from all over the region come to grab their mail and news — good or bad — is passed along.

The news is bad these days, after Tolko Industries announced it’s pulling out of town of about 5,500, shutting the biggest employer behind it. All 332 employees at the local forest products mill will lose their jobs and the town will lose countless spinoffs. 

Lyle Kelly checked his post box in the community and stopped to reminisce about the town’s better days.

Kelly moved to the Pas, located about 624 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, more than three decades ago. He sold off the family cattle and dairy business in the south (he broke even on the sale), borrowed a couple of thousand dollars and got into the appliance repair business.

Lyle Kelly says he loves The Pas but fears for its future. (Sean Kavanagh CBC News)His love of this northern town is obvious.The fishing is fantastic and he made a good living until he retired last year. And Kelly really likes the people.

“There are a lot of people here that you can count on,” he said. “You couldn’t ask for better neighbours. We never locked our houses for many years.”

Kelly admits times have changed and the doors get locked now, but the quality of his friends and neighbours is still high. However, the mill closure has made him sad for what might be coming, and he thinks it has already hit his own wallet.

“Right now,…

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