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Metroland shutters the print version of the Oakville Beaver

Ananya Mittal on Unsplash
Ananya Mittal on Unsplash

Metroland is immediately closing down all weekly newsprint publications, including the Oakville Beaver.

The announcement that Metroland is seeking protection under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act came through a public statement released on Friday, September 15, 2023.

The Oakville Beaver was officially born on July 17,1981, when a merger between Inland Publishing Company and Metrospan Community Newspapers created Metroland. The result was the merger of the town's Oakville Journal Record and Beaver into the Oakville Beaver.

Metroland's announcement does not affect its daily publications, including the Hamilton Spectator, Peterborough Examiner, St. Catharines Standard, Niagara Falls Review, Welland Tribune and the Waterloo Region Record.

The company cited the erosion of advertising revenue attributed to corporations shifting most of their marketing budgets to large tech/search/social media companies such as Meta and Google. They also cited the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which further eroded advertising revenue. 

Carleen Finch, president of Unifor 87M, stated that Metroland provided "no advance notice, and employees who took a VBO (voluntary buyout) are also affected." 

As outlined, "the Company does not have sufficient funds," so it cannot pay termination or severance.  

Though the weekly editions will cease, Metroland will continue to operate its digital platforms. A total of 605 people have lost their jobs, of which 104 are unionized and 68 are journalists. The Toronto Star will not be affected by this as it is a separate entity. 

"This is the end of an era. The Oakville Beaver served our community for many decades, keeping us informed and contributing to our sense of community, though of late it had become a shadow of its former award-winning self," commented Oakville News Board Chair Chris Stoate. 

"This development shows how, in the age of social media, it is difficult to sustain local news, even wrapped in advertising," he added. "But it is important. There is little fact-checking in social media, it creates information silos, and it can be both negative and divisive. An independent local news source is key to the functioning of democracy, keeping residents informed about and engaged in their town."

Oakville News is independent, not part of a chain, and not related to the Oakville Beaver or Metroland.  

We remain committed to news right here in Oakville, to reporting on our community and its residents, and to holding our local politicians to account. To do this, we need your support. Only with your paid subscription can we properly cover our town.

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About the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (BIA)

Seeking protection under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (BIA) is a legal process available to individuals and businesses in Canada who cannot pay their debts. When someone or a company declares bankruptcy or seeks protection under the BIA, they ask for relief from overwhelming debts and a chance to reorganize their finances.

Key points about seeking protection under the BIA

Automatic Stay of Proceedings: When someone files for bankruptcy or seeks protection under the BIA, an "automatic stay" goes into effect. This means creditors must stop their collection efforts, such as lawsuits, wage garnishments, or contacting the debtor for payment.

Licensed Insolvency Trustee: To utilize the BIA, an individual or business must work with a Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT). The LIT helps guide the debtor through the process, assesses their financial situation, and determines the best course of action, whether it's bankruptcy or a formal proposal to creditors.

Bankruptcy: If a debtor files for bankruptcy, their non-exempt assets may be sold to repay some of their debts. The LIT administers the bankruptcy and distributes the proceeds to creditors. Bankruptcy is a legal declaration that the debtor cannot pay their debts.

Proposals: Instead of filing for bankruptcy, debtors can also propose to their creditors a plan to restructure and repay their debts over time. Creditors vote on whether to accept the proposal; if approved, the debtor follows the agreed-upon terms.

Discharge: Once a bankruptcy or a proposal has been completed, the debtor may be discharged from their remaining eligible debts. This allows individuals or businesses a fresh financial start and an opportunity to rebuild their credit over time.