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BC struggling with massive downturn in forestry

Amarjeet Sohi Canadian Minister of Natural Resources.

Canada’s British Columbia is struggling to come to terms with a massive downturn in forestry which is not only affecting mills but sending ripple affects right though the industry. Workers are being laid off, shifts cut and contractors are struggling. Over the past few weeks four sawmills have closed, with the survivors cutting shifts. Source: Timberbiz

According to a Canadian forestry consultant, Jim Girvan, he predicted 16 mills would shut by 2019 and he was correct, this year he stated that he thought another 12 mills would also close.

British Columbians are reliant on the industry for work. Forestry accounts for around 35% of the earnings for BC.

Timber supply has been an issue the industry has faced for almost 20 years and now it has come to a head. Factors such as mountain pine beetles, which wiped out almost half the timber in the region, and weak markets in the US and China have added to the woes.

There are reports that more than 200 job losses will result after the latest closures. Added to these job losses are other related industries that are feeling the pinch with truck owners also expected to suffer.

It was reported that David Elstone, executive director of the Truck Loggers Association in BC said the industry may take a 25% hit over the next months. The truck loggers have no other revenue as they rely solely on log transportation as their primary business.

Canadian company Canfor is reducing its operations even further now announcing it is dropping one shift at its sawmill in Prince George in September and slowing its production an its Mackenzie sawmill.

Recently the Conifex sawmill closed and left 226 people unemployed in Fort St James, this has had a trickle-down effect and the area has declared a state of financial crisis.

Tolko Industries shut down its Quest sawmill and eliminated a shift in its Kelowna mill. West Fraser Timber shut down its Chasm mill and eliminated a shift at its 100 Mile House mill. Norbord curtailed production at its mill in 100 Mile House.

It is anticipated that the next wave of shutdowns could be pulp mills and other processors because they use wood from the sawmills.

Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, the Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, announced a multi-year investment totalling over Can$24 million in six wood product associations based in British Columbia.