British Columbia

'Like a kick to the stomach': West Fraser closing 1 B.C. mill, cutting shifts at another

Quesnel-based West Fraser will permanently close its Chasm lumber mill and eliminate the third shift from its 100 Mile House mill near in the third quarter of 2019, the company announced Monday.

Clinton Mayor Susan Swan says closure of Chasm mill will affect 100 of 650 people living in town

West Fraser cites the mountain pine beetle infestation, record wildfire seasons, price declines in the lumber market and high saw log costs as reasons for the production cuts. (Canadian Press)

Another B.C. lumber company is closing one of its mills and cutting shifts at another.

Quesnel-based West Fraser will permanently close its Chasm lumber mill and eliminate the third shift from its 100 Mile House mill in the third quarter of 2019, the company announced Monday.

It cites the mountain pine beetle infestation, record wildfire seasons, price declines in the lumber market and high saw log costs as reasons for the production cuts.

"As a result of reduced harvesting levels set by the Chief Forester of B.C., there is insufficient timber supply to support the current lumber production capacity of the lumber mills in these locations," president Ray Ferris said in a statement.

The closure of the Chasm mill will affect 176 employees, the company said. The eliminated shift at 100 Mile House will affect 34 employees.

The closure comes after several other forestry companies have announced mill closures and other cutback to their operations in B.C. this year. 

Susan Swan, mayor of the village of Clinton, says West Fraser's cutbacks will have a massive impact on her community.

Clinton is about 20 kilometres southwest of Chasm. Of the 650 people who live there, 100 work at the mill, Swan said.

"It was like a kick to the stomach," Swan said of hearing the news.

"With the mill closures happening around us I was hoping we would be missed. But I wasn't completely surprised by it."

Swan said West Fraser will soon be meeting with council, and she says she will be asking the company what they will be doing for workers and their families who will be affected.

"As a small community we're all tight knit, we know each other, we find ways of supporting each other," she said.

"It's not going to be easy but we will band together and get through this."

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.