Lakeland sawmill to be rebuilt in Prince George
A Prince George sawmill that was destroyed in an explosion last April will be rebuilt on the same site, the company announced today.
Two people were killed and 22 workers injured after an explosion and fire destroyed the Lakeland Mills sawmill.
Demolition crews have begun to remove debris at the site of the former sawmill. Construction is expected to begin this spring, said a statement released by Sinclair Group Forest Products, the parent company of Lakeland Mills.
"I think everyone would have rather just had the mill continue to operate, but in light of that, I think there was a lot of excitement around the fact that the mill is going to be rebuilt. I think there's a lot of relief as well," said Greg Stewart, president of Sinclair Group.
Design development on the new sawmill has not been completed, so details such as its size and production capacity are not yet available. It will be at least a year before the new mill opens.
As a result, United Steel Workers President Frank Everitt says many workers have moved on.
"A lot of them have had to make those tough choices and go on a find employment elsewhere, but I think a lot of them are anxious to come back," said Everitt.
The mill will produce stud lumber, just like before, and will be integrated with the existing planer mill.
The company says it will have a smaller workforce of 100 people, down from 160.
The Lakeland mill explosion, as well as a blast at the Babine Forest Products sawmill in Burns Lake last January, have been the subject of intense investigations, but their causes have not been determined.
WorkSafeBC has passed on the results of their investigation to Crown counsel in B.C. to review and possibly lay charges.
The B.C. government ordered all sawmills in the province to undergo extensive dust cleanups after speculation arose that fine dust associated with milling pine beetle-killed wood could have caused the two explosions.
With files from the CBC’s Marissa Harvey