Canfor will be closing the Canal Flats saw mill as of November 9, it was announced to employees Wednesday.
“Our CEO and members of the senior management team were in Canal Flats today to announce the permanent closure of the facility,” said Corrine Stavness. “While we understand how difficult this will be for our employees and the community of Canal Flats, recent downturns in the oil and gas and lumber markets that the mill served combined with a lack of economically available fibre for the mill have brought operating losses we can no longer sustain.
“Moving to permanent closure means that the employees impacted by this announcement will be entitled to severance. We expect the last day of operations for the mill to be November 9, 2015. We will be establishing a transition office to help impacted employees, all of whom will be offered opportunities to transfer to other Canfor divisions.”
It has come as quite a shock to everyone in the Village of Canal Flats, says Village CAO Brian Woodward.
“I was phoned this morning by Steve Mackie, the Regional Manager,” Woodward told the Bulletin/Townsman on Wednesday afternoon.
“He said they’d had a meeting with all employees and were permanently closing the mill as of November 9.”
Woodward estimates the number of employees affected to be in the area of 80 people. Canal Flats had employed over 150 people at the mill but last May the workforce was reduced to one shift and 81 people laid off.
As for what happens next, Woodward had no answers.
“The mill is by far our largest employer,” he said. “We have so many questions. Are they going to sell it? At this point in time we are organizing a transition team with the Ministry of Jobs and the Village will participate in that process. But we have no answers. There are issues of taxation, and there are at least 30 families living in Canal Flats affected by this. Will they retire? Be bought out?
“We just don’t know. It’s a bit of a shock for everyone.”