New Brunswick

J.D. Irving announces closure of Baker Brook sawmill, loss of 65 jobs

An Irving-owned sawmill in northwestern New Brunswick will close on Nov. 1, resulting in the loss of 65 jobs.

Company blames decline in cedar supply and weak markets for byproducts

The Baker Brook sawmill employed 65 people producing cedar boards, primarily for fence fabrication. (Radio-Canada)

An Irving-owned sawmill in northwestern New Brunswick will close on Nov. 1, resulting in the loss of 65 jobs.

A lack of cedar within a "reasonable distance" of the Baker Brook plant and weak markets for byproducts such as wood chips, shavings and sawdust are to blame, according to a statement issued by J.D. Irving Ltd.

The company plans to consolidate its operations and will try to find placements for the affected employees at some of its other locations across the province, it said.

The sawmill, operated by JDI since 2006, produced cedar boards, primarily for fencing.

"The decision to close a mill is never an easy one," Jerome Pelletier, vice-president of the sawmill division, said in the statement.

"The people we work with in Baker Brook are also our [neighbours]."

The village near Edmundston has a population of about 564, according to 2016 census data.

The company announced the closure Thursday after meeting with the employees and union.

Upper Madawaska Mayor Jean-Pierre Ouellet said he was also advised by the company of the "very sad news" on Thursday.

"My first thoughts are with the affected families," Ouellet said in French in a Facebook post.

He hopes the company will find work for the employees in the Saint-Leonard, Clair or Edmundston areas, he said.

The closure is also be a big loss for the region, representing at least $100,000 a year in property taxes and other taxes, said Ouellet.

Sawmills have been part of its economic, cultural and social heritage since the early 1900s, he added.

About half of the Baker Brook sawmill's cedar supply comes from the United States, according to Ouellet. 


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