Pro­duc­tion cur­tail­ments will hit B.C. sawmill towns hard

The Prince George Citizen - - Local - Gordon McINTYRE

In­def­i­nite cur­tail­ment means the com­pany doesn’t know if they will be­gin op­er­at­ing again or when that might be.

— 100 Miles House Mayor Mitch Campsall

With ar­eas around B.C. al­ready reel­ing from bad forestry news, 160 em­ploy­ees at 100 Mile House found out Tues­day af­ter­noon that their jobs at the Nor­bord mill could be gone for good.

“It hurts all the fam­i­lies in­volved di­rectly, all the log­gers and peo­ple in the ser­vice in­dus­try, small busi­ness,” Mitch Campsall, mayor of 100 Mile House, said.

“Things will just keep go­ing down, down, down, it will af­fect ev­ery­body.”

Nor­bord an­nounced its in­ten­tion to “in­def­i­nitely cur­tail” pro­duc­tion at its ori­ented strand­board (OSB) mill in 100 Mile House, start­ing in Au­gust.

Peter Wi­jn­ber­gen, pres­i­dent and CEO of Nor­bord, cited the cli­mate-re­lated phe­nom­ena of the moun­tain pine beetle epi­demic and, more re­cently, the in­creased num­ber of wild­fires that have led to wood-sup­ply short­ages and high prices.

“In­def­i­nite cur­tail­ment means the com­pany doesn’t know if they will be­gin op­er­at­ing again or when that might be,” Campsall said.

The 100 Mile House mill has a stated an­nual pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity of 440 mil­lion square feet of prod­uct. Nor­bord said it will meet cur­rent and fu­ture cus­tomer de­mand from its 11 other OSB mills in North Amer­ica, in­clud­ing two in north­ern Al­berta.

“It’s hor­ren­dous for our com­mu­nity and it will be an absolute dis­as­ter if those work­ers don’t come back,” Campsall said.

He and others are lob­by­ing to have stumpage fees low­ered to make B.C. mills more com­pet­i­tive.

In­dus­try an­a­lysts have a gen­er­ally gloomy fore­cast over­all, pre­dict­ing up to a dozen mill clo­sures in the next 10 years. Quesnel was hit in May when Tolko In­dus­tries an­nounced it would close its mill there, at the cost of 150 jobs, and West Fraser Tim­ber Co. Ltd. cut a shift at one of its mills.

Can­for will close its Vavenby mill next month, putting 172 peo­ple out of work, ac­cord­ing to the mayor of Clear­wa­ter. That will leave Can­for with 12 Cana­dian mills, 11 of them in B.C. (and one in Grande Prairie, Alta.), with an an­nual ca­pac­ity of about 3.55 bil­lion board feet.

The com­pany will be­gin cur­tail­ing op­er­a­tions in B.C. on June 17 through July 26, re­duc­ing pro­duc­tion by about 200 mil­lion board feet (the unit of mea­sure used in Canada and the U.S. to quan­tify lum­ber).

The Can­for mill in Macken­zie will be cur­tailed for six weeks, mills in Hous­ton and Van­der­hoof for four weeks, and most of the rest for two weeks, the com­pany said.

It’s keep­ing a mill out­side Cre­ston run­ning at ca­pac­ity, a mill Can­for bought two-and-ahalf years ago that em­ploys 120 and makes spe­cialty high-grade wood prod­ucts.

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