"It's a devastating thing for our community" - Canfor to permanently close Chetwynd sawmill and pellet plant
CHETWYND, BC -- Canfor has announced the permanent closure of its Chetwynd sawmill and pellet plant.
The company’s Chetwynd operations will be shuttered as Canfor announces major restructuring to their B.C. operations. The mill closure is expected to affect around 120 workers.
Another sawmill in Houston, which employs nearly 300 workers, will temporarily close as well. Both facilities are expected to wind down operations early in the second quarter of 2023. The closure will remove approximately 750 million board feet of the company’s annual production capacity.
“It’s a devastating thing for our community,” said Allen Courtoreille, Mayor of Chetwynd. “I know families that work there. I know brothers that work there. And it’s just a hard thing to process right now.”
Courtoreille says there may be options for Canfor workers losing their jobs, including transferring to different locations or bridging to their pension for workers who are close to retirement. Courtoreille says the city will also advocate for the company’s help to transition employees to other industries.
The news comes just weeks after an estimated 300 jobs were lost with the closing of Canfor’s pulp mill in Prince George. Mike Bernier, MLA for Peace River South and Shadow Minister of Forests, is calling for more political support for the industry.
“For the last six years, the NDP government has been absent when it comes to any support for forestry. They have kind of just abandoned it completely,” said Bernier. “They wait until the eleventh hour to come out, after closures are being announced, to say ‘now we want to look at helping to invest.’ But that’s too little, too late for many of these mills and communities.”
In a statement, Canfor’s President and CEO Don Kayne said “We are making these difficult but necessary decisions to create a more sustainable operating footprint in B.C. Our goal is to match our mill capacity with the economically available fibre for harvest to enhance our ability to compete and to operate throughout the market cycles. This is what will ultimately create greater stability for our employees and communities, while ensuring we can continue to provide the high quality, low carbon products that are in demand by our customers around the world.”
Canfor adds that they plan to build a “new, modern, globally competitive manufacturing facility” at their Houston site. They say project planning, scoping, preliminary engineering, and budgeting are underway.