Slocan mill co-owner strikes deal

Springer Creek Forest Products’ co-owner has a potential deal to sell “certain assets” to Montreal’s Stella Jones Inc.

Is the Springer Creek mill in Slocan changing hands? No one is saying for sure

Springer Creek Forest Products’ co-owner has a potential deal to sell “certain assets” to Montreal’s Stella Jones Inc., but it’s unclear if the Slocan mill is part of it.

Reached on his cell phone Monday, Brisco Wood Preservers CEO Peter Mason said a non-disclosure agreement prevents him from going into specifics.

“I’m not in a position to talk about it,” he said. “A lot of balls are in motion and it will be a while before I can make any announcement.”

Last week, Stella-Jones, which makes pressure treated wood products for railways and utility companies, said it had signed “a non-binding letter of intent to acquire certain pole treating assets of Brisco Wood Preservers Ltd.”

The deal, if finalized, is expected to close in July and is subject to normal conditions including a purchase agreement.

However, Stan McMaster, president of United Steelworkers local 1-405, which represents employees at the idle Slocan mill, doubts it’s part of the transaction.

“There’s nothing there as far as I can find out,” he said. “If there is, I’m hoping they’ll let me know as soon as possible.”

McMaster asked Mason about the transaction on Friday but received the same confidentiality line.

Based on the wording of the news release, however, which alludes to “pole treating assets,” he doesn’t think the mill is likely involved.

McMaster says he couldn’t guess when or whether the mill, which has been sidelined for a year, will start up again.

“There’s no way of telling. I know there are problems with waste material and chips. It’s a combination of a whole bunch of things. Whether they can resolve them, I have no idea.”

McMaster said most Springer employees have two years of seniority retention, and some senior people were still working as of last August.

“Some junior people might have fallen off the list, but any of the more senior people will be making sure the employer has their contact information,” he said.

The collective agreement, established through pattern bargaining, is good until June 2013.

Brisco bought the Slocan mill in partnership with Sunshine Logging Ltd. of Kaslo in 2005 from Canfor.

It has been operated sporadically over the last decade, with several lengthy shutdowns due to poor markets.

The vacant mill was recently vandalized.

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