B.C.’s struggling forestry sector was dealt another harsh blow with the announcement that Canfor Corporation was shutting down all 10 sawmills currently operating in the province over Christmas and New Year, affecting 2,100 workers.
The curtailments start Dec. 23 and run through Jan. 6. The only exception is the WynnWood operation near Creston which will be shuttered for five days.
According to a press release from Canfor, the curtailments are the result of high fibre costs and weak lumber markets, “which are making the operating conditions in B.C. uneconomic.”
“We deeply regret that our employees have been impacted by multiple curtailments in 2019, we know it has been a difficult year for our employees, contractors, their families and the local communities,” said Stephen Mackie, senior vice-president of Canfor’s Canadian operations.
At the start of the year Canfor operated 13 sawmills in the province, most of them located in the Interior. All have been hit with curtailments, shift reductions, and in the case of Mackenzie and Vavenby, complete closures.
Entire industry hurting
B.C.’s lumber industry continues to reel from a combination of factors — the slowing U.S. housing market, lower demand from China, the impact of wildfires and the end of the mountain pine beetle cut.
Two weeks ago, Tolko Industries announced it was curtailing operations at all of its B.C. operations between Dec. 21 and Jan. 6.
Last week Mosaic Forest Management announced it was curtailing harvest operations on Vancouver Island and the B.C. coast, affecting 2,000 workers.
According to Canfor, the curtailments announced today will remove almost 58 million board feet of production output from the market.
Great Pacific Capital Corporation, a company owned by B.C. billionaire Jim Pattison that already owns 51 per cent of Canfor’s shares, recently made a bid to purchase the rest and make it a private company.
A shareholders’ vote on the proposal, which as already been approved by a special Canfor committee, is expected in December.