Sawmills closing in beetle aftermath

Quesnel, Houston mills to shut next year as owners trade timber cutting rights to keep competing mills going

Babine Forest Products mill in Burns Lake is being rebuilt after fire destroyed it and killed two workers Jan. 20

Babine Forest Products mill in Burns Lake is being rebuilt after fire destroyed it and killed two workers Jan. 20

Sawmills in Quesnel and Houston are to be closed next year as their owners trade timber cutting rights to maintain competing operations in the two B.C. Interior communities affected by mountain pine beetle infestation.

Canfor Corp. announced it will close its Quesnel mill in March 2014, transferring its forest licence for the region to West Fraser to supply logs to its recently rebuilt Quesnel mill. West Fraser announced it will close its Houston mill next year, trading part of its cutting rights to Canfor to supply its Houston operation.

West Fraser CEO Ted Seraphim said in a statement its Houston closure will affect 225 employees. The company plans “major rebuilds” of its sawmills in 100 Mile House and Smithers, and is proceeding with a bioenergy projects at its Fraser Lake and Chetwynd operations.

“Our first priority is to explore opportunities to transition Houston employees to one of our other operations, and we will provide assistance in finding new employment,” Seraphim said.

Canfor CEO Don Kayne said the 209 employees at its Quesnel mill will be offered positions elsewhere in the company.

“The additional fibre we have been able to secure in the exchange agreement with West Fraser enhances the fibre requirements for our Houston facility,” Kayne said.

Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad, who chaired a review of Interior timber supplies in the wake of last year’s explosion and fire at Babine Forest Products in Burns Lake, said he expected the decision to reduce mill capacity in the Quesnel region.

“The surprise is the closure of the Houston mill, from my perspective,” Rustad said. “I think West Fraser has always been looking at how they want to move the wood between the three mills, but when we looked at the opportunities in the Houston area on the timber supply component, there was a significant amount of wood in that area, and our hope was it would continue to support two mills.”

Rustad said the decision last December to provide timber for Oregon-based Hampton Affiliates to rebuild its Burns Lake sawmill “had only very minimal impact” on supply for the other mills in the region.

NDP forests critic Norm Macdonald said the government had warnings from the Forest Practices Board, the auditor general and industry leaders that the beetle infestation would lead to mill closures.

“The creation of a jobs protection commissioner could provide a consistent and systematic economic transition for these kinds of forestry-dependent communities,” Macdonald said.

Forests Minister Steve Thomson was scheduled to return Friday from a lumber trade mission in Japan and China, along with industry executives from across the province.

 

Just Posted

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Kimberley residents were treated to the first Farmers' Market of the season, and the feeling of a return to normalcy. Paul Rodgers photos.
WATCH: Kimberley’s first Farmers’ Market of the season

Kimberley residents enjoyed the first Farmers’ Market of the year on Thursday,… Continue reading

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

Students at Creston Valley Secondary School put together an art installation of a replica residential school room. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)
Creston students create art installation of residential school room

The replica was decorated with a small bed, school uniform, and notes written with pleas for help

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

New research suggests wolves can be steered away from the endangered caribou herds they prey on by making the man-made trails they use to hunt harder to move along. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Culling cutlines, not B.C. wolves, key to preserving caribou herds: researcher

The government has turned to killing hundreds of wolves in an effort to keep caribou around

Gary Abbott (left) and Louis De Jaeger were two of the organizers for the 2014 Spirit of the People Powwow in Chilliwack. Monday, June 21, 2021 is Indigenous Peoples Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of June 20 to 26

Indigenous Peoples Day, Take Your Dog to Work Day, Onion Rings Day all coming up this week

Gwen Spencer Hethey with her uncle and mentor Major Frederick Richardson. (Courtesy of Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame)
‘She was a killer’: The B.C. woman who pioneered female sharpshooting

Gwen Spencer Hethey made military men ‘look like turkeys’ says her son

Central Okanagan Grade 12 grads are set to get $500 each after a more than $1 million donation from a Kelowna couple. (File photo)
B.C. couple donating $500 to every Grade 12 student in the Okanagan

Anonymous donors identified as Kelowna entrepreneurs Lance and Tammy Torgerson

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Rita Coolidge played the main stage at Vancouver Island Musicfest in 2017. (Black Press file photo)
This year’s Vancouver Island MusicFest to virtually showcase beauty of Comox Valley

Returning July 9 through 11 with more than 25 hours of music performances

British Columbia’s premier says he’s received a second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. (Twitter/John Horgan)
B.C. premier gets 2nd dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

John Horgan shared a photo of himself on social media Friday afternoon holding a completed vaccination card

A lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS
No winning ticket sold for Friday’s $70 million Lotto Max jackpot

The huge jackpot has remained unclaimed for several weeks now

Most Read