The idled sawmill at Slocan City appears set to be scrapped.
Village administrator Jack Richardson confirmed Wednesday that Springer Creek Forest Products has applied for a demolition permit, which will likely be issued soon. The request won’t need to go before village council.
“The building inspectors were checking into it, but once their ducks are lined up, there’s nothing to hold it up,” Richardson said.
The actual work is between the owner and the contractor without the village’s involvement, he added. The application came in a couple of weeks ago, but it’s unclear whether the operation will be removed in whole or in part, or how long it might take.
Peter Mason, CEO of parent company Brisco Wood Preservers, declined to confirm the site’s fate. “We’re working through some fundamentals right now,” he said. “We’ll be making a decision fairly quickly, but I haven’t signed off on anything.”
Mayor Madeleine Perriere says she doesn’t know the company’s intention for the site beyond removal of buildings and equipment.
“They have safety and liability issues,” she said, pointing to repeated vandalism and theft. “They want to clean up the site but don’t have any [further] plans. It’s not logical to keep equipment when you don’t have any wood to cut. It just makes sense and we have to be patient and see the next step.”
She wasn’t sure of the timeline, but expected crews would aim to finish before snow falls.
Perriere said some residents erroneously believe the land will revert to the village, its previous owner, but no such provision exists.
Springer Creek’s 75-member workforce agreed to a settlement package in January that saw them receive three quarters of what they might otherwise have been entitled to, in lieu of severance. That followed an agreement to sell Springer Creek’s timber licenses to Interfor.
The company has also paid off its outstanding property tax bill. While neither Richardson nor Perriere would reveal the exact amount, this year’s taxes plus two years worth of arrears came in following the timber license sale.
The village expects Springer Creek to have the property’s value reassessed following the demolition work, resulting in reduced taxes. Perriere said the village has been anticipating a decrease in tax revenue from the mill and working on ways to replace those funds, such as a microhydro project.
The mill on the Slocan beachfront was built in the 1960s and went through a series of owners and names including Triangle Pacific, Slocan Forest Products, and Canfor. It has only operated sporadically over the last decade, with several lengthy shutdowns due to poor markets.
The last closure, in mid-2011, was blamed on lumber prices, exchange rates and transportation costs, plus dwindling demand for waste wood.