(Black Press file photo)

(Black Press file photo)

21 Northern B.C. mayors urge Ottawa to help struggling forest industry

Letter aims to seek assistance through federal programs to deal with the crisis

Twenty-one northern B.C. mayors have sent a letter to the federal government in regard to the crisis in the province’s forest industry and are urgently seeking help.

“We’re urging them to come to the table with support for communities and employees bearing the brunt of mill closures. Hoping for a prompt and positive response,” wrote Smithers Mayor Taylor Bachrach in a tweet on Aug. 1.

The letter is addressed to Amarjeet Sohi, minister of natural resources, Chrystia Freeland, minister of foreign affairs, Patricia A. Hajdu, minister of employment, workforce development and labour, and Jeffrey Biggs, director of Natural Resources Canada.

The mayors write that the forest industry is one of the largest employers in the province, supporting 140,000 jobs, but that, since May 1, there have been 45 announcements of curtailments or closures of B.C. forestry operations, most of them due to the high cost of lumber and current market conditions.

READ MORE: Conifex employees uncertain about sale agreement

“Under current conditions, many operations are simply not viable, which is forcing difficult decisions to close, or curtail production to re-balance mill capacity with available timber supply,” states the letter.

As a result, communities and employees have been suffering, it says, and getting through the crisis would require a collective effort with industry, government at all levels, municipalities and workers.

In recent curtailments, Conifex in Fort St. James decided to close operations and sell the sawmill and forest license to Hampton Lumber in Burns Lake.

On Aug. 1, Sinclair Forests Group, which runs sawmills in Prince George, Vanderhoof and Fort St. James, said it was curtailing activity at three mills for two weeks starting Aug. 15.

The mayors who signed the letter include Mackenzie Mayor Joan Atkinson, Chair of the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George Art Kaehn, Smithers Mayor Taylor Bachrach, Terrace Mayor Carol Leclerc, Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb, Granisle Mayor Linda McGuire, Burns Lake Mayor Dolores Funk, Pouce Coupe Mayor Lorraine Michetti, Queen Charlotte Mayor Kris Olsen, Chair of the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine Phil Germuth, Prince George Mayor Lyn Hall, McBride Mayor Eugene Runtz, Chair of the Peace River Regional District Brad Sperling, Vanderhoof Mayor Gerry Thiessen, Hazelton Mayor Dennis Sterritt, Valemount Mayor Owen M. Torgerson, Fraser Lake Mayor Sarrah Storey, Chair of the Cariboo Regional District Margo Wagner, Dawson Creek Mayor Dale Bumstead, Telkwa Mayor Brad Layton, Mayor of Northern Rockies regional municipality Gary Foster, President and Chief Executive Officer of the BC Council of Forest Industries Susan Yurkovich.

READ MORE: Sinclair Group announces temporary curtailment for sawmills

READ MORE: B.C. Liberals call for tax relief for struggling forest industry


Aman Parhar
Editor, Vanderhoof Omineca Express

aman.parhar@ominecaexpress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The proposed Skaha Lake Road housing project will be modelled after the Burdock House on Winnipeg St., said BC Housing.
BC Housing panel peppered with questions about Skaha housing project

Virtual meeting involved questions about crime, level of supports, timelines

(Stock photo)
EDITORIAL: COVID-19 restrictions continue to affect us all

Canada has recorded more than 700,000 confirmed cases of pandemic

Landmark Cinemas Penticton was forced to close down when the provincial government ordered all theatres to close when new COVID-19 restrictions were brought in Nov. 19, 2020. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Despite ‘devastating’ losses the show will eventually go on at Penticton theatre

Landmark Cinemas has been offering movie popcorn since having to close in November

Amanda Parsons, a registered nurse on staff at the Northwood Care facility, administers a dose of the Moderna vaccine to Ann Hicks, 77, in Halifax on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan-Pool
61 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

Twenty-nine people are in hospital, seven of whom are in intensive care

This is rendering of what the playground of the new provincially funded child care centre could look like on Edmonton Ave.
Public hearing for childcare centre rezoning Feb. 1

The Edmonton Ave. facility would add 116 more childcare spots

Charlotte is one of the resident pigs at Star's Piggly Wiggly's Sanctuary near Kelowna. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
Kelowna-area pig sanctuary needs a new home

Star’s Piggly Wiggly’s Sanctuary is looking for properties in Vernon, Coldstream, and Enderby

Ladybug Landing Child Care Centre in Salmon Arm remains open as one person who was at the facility tested positive for COVID-19. (Lachlan Labere/Salmon Arm Observer)
Salmon Arm daycare owner upset by rumours related to positive COVID-19 test

Ladybug Landing’s Leigh-Anne Chapman impressed by response from Interior Health

The Regional District of North Okanagan is cautioning residents to watch for rock slides along the Okanagan Rail Trail during freeze-thaw season. (RDNO photo)
Residents urged to watch for rockfalls on Okanagan Rail Trail

RDNO reminds rail trail travellers to heed rockfall warning signs during freeze-thaw season

Toronto’s Mass Vaccination Clinic is shown on Sunday January 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Canadian malls, conference centres, hotels offer up space for COVID vaccination centres

Commercial real estate association REALPAC said that a similar initiative was seeing success in the U.K.

Flags line the National Mall towards the Capitol Building as events get underway for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Joe Biden has been sworn in as the 46th president of the United States

About 25,000 National Guard members have been dispatched to Washington

A memorial for the fatal bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncos hockey team at the intersection of Highways 35 and 335 near Tisdale, Tuesday, October 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Liam Richards
‘End of the road:’ Truck driver in Humboldt Broncos crash awaits deportation decision

Sidhu was sentenced almost two years ago to eight years after pleading guilty to dangerous driving

A couple living at the Summerland Waterfront Resort is trying to sell their unit because of strata changes which will require them to pay significantly higher strata fees or have their unit included in the resort’s rental pool (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Permanent residents of Summerland resort must move or face major fee increase

Permanent residents of Summerland Waterfront Resort told fees will more than double

Cumberland photographer Sara Kemper recently took the top spot in a Canadian Geographic photography contest. Photo by Sara Kemper
B.C. photographer takes top Canadian Geographic photo prize

Sara Kemper shows what home means to her in Comox Valley photo

(Big White Ski Resort)
28 more cases of COVID-19 linked to Big White cluster

More than 200 cases have been identified since the cluster was announced

Most Read