(Black Press file photo)

21 Northern B.C. mayors urge Ottawa to help struggling forest industry

Letter aims to seek assistance through federal programs to deal with the crisis

Twenty-one northern B.C. mayors have sent a letter to the federal government in regard to the crisis in the province’s forest industry and are urgently seeking help.

“We’re urging them to come to the table with support for communities and employees bearing the brunt of mill closures. Hoping for a prompt and positive response,” wrote Smithers Mayor Taylor Bachrach in a tweet on Aug. 1.

The letter is addressed to Amarjeet Sohi, minister of natural resources, Chrystia Freeland, minister of foreign affairs, Patricia A. Hajdu, minister of employment, workforce development and labour, and Jeffrey Biggs, director of Natural Resources Canada.

The mayors write that the forest industry is one of the largest employers in the province, supporting 140,000 jobs, but that, since May 1, there have been 45 announcements of curtailments or closures of B.C. forestry operations, most of them due to the high cost of lumber and current market conditions.

READ MORE: Conifex employees uncertain about sale agreement

“Under current conditions, many operations are simply not viable, which is forcing difficult decisions to close, or curtail production to re-balance mill capacity with available timber supply,” states the letter.

As a result, communities and employees have been suffering, it says, and getting through the crisis would require a collective effort with industry, government at all levels, municipalities and workers.

In recent curtailments, Conifex in Fort St. James decided to close operations and sell the sawmill and forest license to Hampton Lumber in Burns Lake.

On Aug. 1, Sinclair Forests Group, which runs sawmills in Prince George, Vanderhoof and Fort St. James, said it was curtailing activity at three mills for two weeks starting Aug. 15.

The mayors who signed the letter include Mackenzie Mayor Joan Atkinson, Chair of the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George Art Kaehn, Smithers Mayor Taylor Bachrach, Terrace Mayor Carol Leclerc, Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb, Granisle Mayor Linda McGuire, Burns Lake Mayor Dolores Funk, Pouce Coupe Mayor Lorraine Michetti, Queen Charlotte Mayor Kris Olsen, Chair of the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine Phil Germuth, Prince George Mayor Lyn Hall, McBride Mayor Eugene Runtz, Chair of the Peace River Regional District Brad Sperling, Vanderhoof Mayor Gerry Thiessen, Hazelton Mayor Dennis Sterritt, Valemount Mayor Owen M. Torgerson, Fraser Lake Mayor Sarrah Storey, Chair of the Cariboo Regional District Margo Wagner, Dawson Creek Mayor Dale Bumstead, Telkwa Mayor Brad Layton, Mayor of Northern Rockies regional municipality Gary Foster, President and Chief Executive Officer of the BC Council of Forest Industries Susan Yurkovich.

READ MORE: Sinclair Group announces temporary curtailment for sawmills

READ MORE: B.C. Liberals call for tax relief for struggling forest industry


Aman Parhar
Editor, Vanderhoof Omineca Express

aman.parhar@ominecaexpress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cottonwood Lake Society announces $15,000 in new funding

The Nelson Rod and Gun Club and Royal Bank of Canada have chipped in

L.V. Rogers Bombers finish second in Osoyoos basketball tournament

The seniors boys team came undone late in the final

LETTER: Gone to pot(holes)

From reader R. Johnson

Nelson’s Bank of Montreal branch re-opens after pipeline sit-in

Wet’suwet’en supporters left the bank over the weekend

Nelson and RDCK both eyeing waste wood to produce energy

Nelson’s five-year-old business plan will resurface at council table this summer

VIDEO: 7 things you need to know about the 2020 B.C. budget

Surplus of $227 million with big spending on infrastructure and capital projects

Teen snowmobiler from Kelowna found after air force’s overnight search

The teen had been missing since just after 6 p.m. on Monday

Two law enforcement trucks ‘deliberately’ set on fire in northern B.C., RCMP say

Police say they have video evidence of a person in the area of the truck fires

Nanaimo man wins lotto, plans to buy $16,000 fridge

Curtis Wright a winner in Lotto 6/49 draw

Three protesters arrested after blocking driveway at premier’s home

Protestors claimed they would make a citizen’s arrest of the Premier, according to West Shore RCMP

Budget 2020: B.C. adds tax to sweet drinks and sodas

All soda, vending machine drinks will be subject to higher PST

Budget 2020: B.C. unveils new grant for students, phases out debt-relief program

For the first time, diploma, certificate students qualify for yearly post-secondary grant

Budget 2020: B.C. NDP taps top tax bracket for more revenue

Minimum wage set to pass $15 an hour by 2021

Budget 2020: Not much new for B.C.’s struggling forest industry

Focus on wood waste utilization, efficiency, Carole James says

Most Read