New Brunswick

J.D. Irving Ltd. to replace Doaktown sawmill in 2017

J.D. Irving Ltd. plans to go ahead with the replacement of its Doaktown sawmill this year after two years of delays.

Doaktown sawmill replacement was one of several projects Irving committed to in 2014

In 2014, J.D. Irving Ltd. president Jim Irving announced $38-million worth of improvements to the company's operations in Doaktown and Chipman. The company plans to go ahead with the replacement of its Doaktown sawmill this year. (CBC)

J.D. Irving Ltd. plans to go ahead with the replacement of its Doaktown sawmill this year after two years of delays.

The company confirmed that it will start work on the project, which was originally scheduled to get underway in the spring of 2015.

Doaktown Mayor Bev Gaston first revealed the new start date in an interview with CBC News last week.

"Yes, actually it's supposed to start in the spring, sometime between April and August, I guess. They've expanded it now to do some more things so that's great."

He said the company told him the mill would be "quite a bit bigger" than originally planned, which would probably mean more jobs and more property tax revenue for Doaktown.

Mary Keith, JDI's vice–president of communications, confirmed the 2017 start in an email statement Friday.

"We did confirm that the scope of the Doaktown modernization plans are larger [with more technology] than what was originally forecast," she said.

One of several projects

The sawmill replacement was one of several projects Irving committed to when the previous Progressive Conservative government released its forestry plan in 2014 and signed a 25-year, wood-allocation contract with the company.

At the time, Irving said it would be a $15-million project.
Premier David Alward and Jim Irving appeared together at a media event to discuss the company's expansion plans in 2014. (CBC)

But while the others have gone ahead, the Doaktown project was put on hold.

JDI said in 2015 it would delay the work to "balance our resources." A year ago it said it would get started in the fall of 2016, "subject to market conditions."

Keith said in her statement the company has been "open with stakeholders that this schedule was subject to change depending on market conditions, including the course of the softwood lumber trade agreement with the U.S. and application of countervailing and anti-dumping duties by the United States."

She didn't say in her statement what the new dollar value of the project would be.

She said JDI has recently spent $75 million on other projects that were not part of the 2014 forestry plan announcements.

The delay in Doaktown prompted Southwest Miramichi-Bay du Vin Progressive Conservative MLA Jake Stewart to rethink his support for his own party's forestry plan.

Stewart welcomed the news the project will go ahead this year.

"It's a great project in the short term with construction opportunities," he said.

"For the long term it cements JDI's commitment to Doaktown. This is great for Doaktown and the whole region."

About the Author

Jacques Poitras

Provincial Affairs reporter

Jacques Poitras has been CBC's provincial affairs reporter in New Brunswick since 2000. Raised in Moncton, he also produces the CBC political podcast Spin Reduxit.

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