Interfor has reached a deal to buy two timber tenures from Slocan’s Springer Creek Forest Products, subject to regulatory approvals.
“The tenures, which have a combined allowable annual cut of approximately 174,000 cubic metres, will support an increase in production at Interfor’s sawmill at Castlegar and help sustain the communities and businesses associated with that operation,” said John Horning, senior vice president and chief financial officer in a release issued Tuesday.
Horning cautioned that forward-looking projections hinge on general economic and business conditions and that risks and uncertainties always exist.
Used to uncertainties, unionized employees at Springer Creek Forest Products in Slocan agreed to a reduced settlement package early this year that hinged on the deal with Interfor.
Fifty-nine of the 75 or so employees who remain on the seniority list voted 97 per cent in favour of an offer that will see them receive three-quarters of what they might otherwise have been entitled to, in lieu of severance.
The sawmill has been idle since mid-2011. The buyout removes uncertainty for the workforce.
“Most of the guys felt that way. We said you’re better off taking something you know for sure,” said Doug Singer, United Steelworkers Local 1-405 president in an interview with the Star in January. “Springer said their intention is to run the mill. It’s just a matter of when. But in fairness to employees, they had this deal with Interfor that is beneficial to everyone.”
Over the last 40 years, the mill has gone through several name and ownership changes — from Triangle Pacific to Slocan Forest Products to Canfor to Springer Creek — and at one time employed well over 100 people.
It has operated sporadically over the last decade, with several lengthy shutdowns due to poor markets. The present closure was blamed on lumber prices, exchange rates, and transportation costs, as well as diminishing demand for waste wood.