Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad is devastated by the news Fort Saint James has declared a financial state of emergency due to the recent Conifex sawmill closure.

Mayor Bev Playfair announced on Wednesday the closure has impacted 226 district employees.

Rustad told the alarm bells go off when a major step like this is taken.

“I think when you see a mayor and council take the extraordinary step of declaring a state of local financial crisis you have to realize that this has gone quite a ways and that people are concerned.”

If the state of uncertainty in the community wasn’t being felt before, it sure is now.

“When you talk to contractors who have had to lay off their people and our struggling on how they are going to make a payment when you talk to some of the workers who have got their payments and they are trying to figure out what to do you really have a sense that some real pain is being felt.”

Rustad adds when residents are seeing timber being moved through the community to other sawmills it only adds to the stress level.

“There have been contractors that have not had consistent work now since December and the people who have been working at the mill have been out of work now for about three months, for the community, it’s a real challenge.”

As for what he’s going to be doing in the meantime from a political point of view, Rustad will continue to demand that both the federal and provincial governments step up to the plate and assist the struggling community.

“I am going to be continually in contact with Fort Saint James doing everything I can to find ways to support the community but beyond that, I am going to continue to put pressure on the provincial government to step up to the plate to engage the federal government so that they can come in.”

The crisis will remain in place until August 15th.