Postmedia, the parent company of the Vancouver Sun and Province newspapers, announced Monday it plans to close and sell its Kennedy Heights printing plant in North Surrey in a bid to cut costs and pay down debt, according to a report in the Surrey`s NOW newspaper.
The Kennedy Heights plant opened in 1997 and occupies 5.5 hectares, at 12091-88th Ave. With its imposing security tower, and bronze statue of “The Family” by B.C. sculptor Jack Harman, it’s a well-known if somewhat hidden Surrey landmark.
“First and foremost, I am most concerned about those who will lose their job,” said Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts.
The plan to close and sell affects 275 employees – 260 union members plus management.
“We’re extremely concerned about the livelihoods of our members out there,” said Gary Engler, vice-president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada Local 2000. “This is something that means there is obviously going to be big changes in their lives.”
Engler said the union will do everything in its power “to mitigate the effect” the closure and sale will have on its members and their families.
Paul Godfrey, CEO of Postmedia, told union representatives Monday that the company has entered into an outsourcing agreement with a business on Annacis Island – Transcontinental Printing, Canada’s largest printer and the fourth largest in North America – to begin printing the Sun and Province in February 2015 unless the company and union can reach a deal.
That deal, with a deadline of Nov. 18, would be to open a new plant only if operating costs can be reduced by 70 to 75 per cent.
Watts said she hopes if the closure and sale go ahead, that Postmedia and the union will develop a “transitional plan” to help affected employees land on their feet.