Some forestry jobs revert to BC Interior after transfer of logging rights from shutter mill


More timber harvesting jobs are expected in central British Columbia now that forest tenures from Canfor’s former sawmill in Vavenby have been transferred to lumber producer Interfor Corp.

The British Columbia government announced the long-awaited transfer on Friday.

Clearwater Mayor Merlin Blackwell has sharply criticized delays in transferring logging rights to another company after the nearby Vavenby mill closed in June 2019, putting more than 170 people out of work in the area north of Kamloops.

“I’m so glad the wait is over,” he said.

“It may take a few more weeks or months to get back to full functioning, but that’s what has to happen to give everyone a new future.”

The transfer will give Interfor access to an annual cut of 349,000 cubic meters of timber to supply its Adams Lake Lumber division located south of Clearwater and Vavenby.

“This is clearly positive for the staff in our Adams Lake region in particular, but also for the community within the region,” said Marvin Juravsky, senior vice president and chief financial officer of Interfor.

Juravsky said having this additional mandate to support the Adams Lake sawmill is important to ensure the mill has a long future ahead of it, given the current state of the forest industry in British Columbia. .

There were surprise community benefits for Blackwell in Friday’s announcement. The District of Clearwater will receive a legacy fund of $ 200,000 from Canfor to be used at the discretion of the District. An additional $ 500,000 will be donated to the Wells Gray Community Forest and $ 150,000 will go to United Way.

“People know where they are now, they can start making plans, they can continue to decide to pay the trucks,” Blackwell said. “A lot of people can start breathing again.”

“I just hope the government can speed this up in the future so that the next time it happens, all the lessons learned from us can speed it up for the next community that has to go through this,” Blackwell said.

Ravi Kahlon, British Columbia’s parliamentary secretary for forests, lands and natural resources, said the companies were still amending their proposals 10 days ago.

“It is difficult to make a decision when the current proposals are still changing. No one had an interest in delaying this longer than necessary.”

Now that government approval has been obtained, Canfor and Interfor can move forward with closing the deal. The deal is expected to be finalized this spring.

When the possibility of a change in forest rights ownership was first announced in June, leaders of the Simpcw First Nation, located between Kamloops and Clearwater, said they had not been consulted and that they hoped to acquire at least part of the land tenure.

Kahlon said the BC government is in talks with Simpcw.

“We agreed that there are some issues there that we still have to resolve,” he said.

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