Interfor employee Gary Popoff shakes the premier’s hand, thanking him for his work supporting forestry. (Photo by: John Boivin)

Premier Horgan talks jobs and opportunity at Castlegar mill

Upbeat visit brings message of hope and co-operation among Kootenay forestry players

B.C.’s premier toured a Castlegar sawmill Wednesday, saying he was optimistic about the future of the province’s forest industry.

“I’m absolutely enthusiastic about the future of forestry,” said Premier John Horgan. “There are challenges, there are market challenges, but markets change all the time.

“What you need is a solid foundation of skilled workers, which we have here, a fibre basket, which we have here, and a modern facility that can maximize the benefit of every log.”

Horgan spent the day visiting two West Kootenay lumber companies. At the Kalesnikoff Lumber mill in Thrums he heard about plans to build a state-of-the-art facility for construction timber; at the Interfor mill in Castlegar he was told how a $100-million investment by the company over the last five years meant new markets for B.C. forest products.

It’s the adoption of new technology, he said, that will help secure jobs in the lumber industry in the future.

“It’s so important to our economy to make sure we use the best available technology to ensure we’re getting every scrap of fibre put into the marketplace in the best possible way,” he told a crowd of employees at the end of his tour. “And this mill, and the investment that Interfor has made for the past five years is a testament to what the forest sector can be now, and well into the future.”

Horgan acknowledged there were issues — from softwood lumber disputes with the U.S. to beetle-killed forest to low prices — that a government couldn’t address.

“I can’t fix that,” he admitted. “But I can work with industry to make sure we soften that blow. I talked to the federal government for them upping their game for programs for those who are displaced, but at the end of the day I think we are going to sail into the future because of technological change that allows us to do better with the wood that we’re bringing out of the forest.”

About 30 workers from the plant gathered to hear the premier — members of the local United Steelworkers — and were appreciative of his message.

“I’d like to thank you for your time, your commitment, and your support, towards the forest industry,” said Gary Popoff. “We need that and we appreciate that.

“Thanks for your time and keep up the good work.”

“My family lives in this community and the lumber mill keeps us going, so it’s what we need,” added J.J. Beck. “So we’re very, very thankful and very appreciative of your work.”

The premier acknowledged that challenges remain, but returned to the point on co-operation being key to success.

“It’s not new to anyone in the forest industry. It’s a cyclical industry, prices are up prices are down,” he said. “Access to timber changes from season to season, circumstance to circumstance. But I am confident that if we work together — Steelworkers, industry, community — we’re going to get to the right place for all of us.”

 

Premier John Horgan speaks with Interfor employees Rob Parisotto (left) and Jim Tazelaar (centre) about markets for B.C. timber. (Photo by: John Boivin)

Just Posted

Plastic reduction: these Nelson businesses are on it

October is plastic waste awareness month in Nelson

Kootenay-Columbia riding candidates have Canada’s highest expense limit

Facebook data also shows who is buying ads on the social media website

Kootenay-Columbia candidate cautious after getting threats

Trev Miller of the Animal Protection Party carries on campaigning under shadow of threats, abusive emails

Celgar says equipment failure won’t affect production next week

The chip dumper collapse on Oct. 6 is still under investigation

Nelson musical explores chess, women’s emancipation, a love triangle and the Cold War

Chess: The Musical run Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Capitol Theatre

ELECTION 2019: Have Justin Trudeau’s Liberals really cut middle-class taxes?

Conservative Andrew Scheer vows to cut bottom bracket, NDP’s Jagmeet Singh targets wealth tax

Woman, 24, faces life-altering injuries after being dragged 4 blocks by vehicle in Vancouver

A gofundme account says the woman will have to undergo multiple complex surgeries

Frustration and pride in Canada after a year of legal pot

It’s one year into Canada’s experiment in legal marijuana, and hundreds of legal pot shops have opened

West Kelowna business facing charges after six bears killed over littering

A West Kelowna business has been charged for leaving garbage around Lake Okanagan Resort

Fatal overdoses down by 33% in B.C., but carfentanil deaths continue to spike

Carfentanil, an illicit drug more powerful than fentanyl, causing more deaths than ever

A year after pot legalization in Canada, it’s a slow roll

It’s one year into Canada’s experiment in legal marijuana, and hundreds of legal pot shops have opened

ELECTION 2019: Climate strikes push environment to top of mind for federal leaders

Black Press Media presents a three-part series on three big election issues

Most Read