British Columbia

Sawmill closure in Canal Flats, B.C., leaves 75 out of work

A sawmill closure in B.C.'s East Kootenay region has put 75 people out of work in a town of just over 700 people.

'100 years of sawmill operation in or around Canal Flats ... has come to an end'

The Canfor sawmill in Canal Flats, as seen from the road. The mill's closure has put 75 people out of work in the town of about 700 people. (Google Maps)

The main employer in the village of Canal Flats in B.C.'s East Kootenay region shut down today, putting 75 employees out of work.

Canfor announced the closure of the mill on Sept. 9. The last processing work concluded at the end of September, and employees have been doing shut down work since then to prepare the plant for final closure.

It was pretty sad, quite frankly ... just the reality that this is the end, right?" Doug Singer, president of the local branch of United Steelworkers, told Radio West host Rebecca Zandbergen. "When you look at a 170 jobs missing from May until now when the closure happened, that's a lot of jobs in a very small area."

In a statement, Canfor blamed low lumber prices and available trees, as well a depressed economy for the closure.

Canfor said all employees would have the chance to transfer to other mills.

Canal Flats is marked by the red point near the B.C.-Alberta border. (Google Maps)
"We recognize this decision will be difficult for our employees and the community of Canal Flats, and we are committed to doing what we can to ease that transition," said Canfor President and CEO Don Kayne.

United Steelworkers, in a statement, said the actual number of jobs lost was closer to 170 when layoffs in May are factored in.

The union says a few members have transferred to jobs at Elko or Radium, leaving a "large number of members with very few options, especially those who are within ten years of retirement."

To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: B.C. sawmill closure puts 75 out of work


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