The District of Houston released a statement today saying the municipality has been in contact with Canfor and is aware of the temporary reduction in operating hours at its Houston sawmilling complex. (Black Press file photo)

Canfor curtailing sawmill operations in B.C.

Company cites log supply constraints, log costs and current market conditions

Canfor announced Thursday it will be curtailing sawmill operations in B.C. during the fourth quarter of 2018 due to log supply constraints, log costs and current market conditions.

The curtailment is expected to reduce Canfor’s B.C. production output by approximately 10 per cent throughout the quarter.

The District of Houston released a statement Thursday saying the municipality has been in contact with Canfor and is aware of the temporary reduction in operating hours at its Houston sawmilling complex.

“Our immediate thoughts are with the workers and their families who are impacted by this decision,” said the district in a statement.

“In the days ahead, the district will coordinate with Canfor and other appropriate agencies and levels of government to understand the full impact of the decision on our community, and work to ensure that the proper resources are available to assist the impacted workers and their families with this transition,” added the statement.

According to Canfor, lumber production will be reduced over the quarter through a decrease in operating days. This will be achieved through immediate short-term curtailments at some facilities, along with extended downtime at Christmas.

“We have made the difficult decision to curtail our B.C. sawmill operations over the fourth quarter due to log supply challenges following another difficult wildfire season, uncompetitive log costs and declining lumber prices,” said Don Kayne, Canfor’s president and chief executive officer. “We are working to mitigate impacts on our employees as much as possible.”

Canfor has 13 sawmills in Canada, with total annual capacity of approximately 3.8 billion board feet.

Workers at Canfor’s sawmill in Houston have been ready to go on strike since last month.

United Steelworkers (USW) Local 1-2017, which represents more than 1,500 forestry workers in B.C. – including Houston’s Canfor sawmill workers –, issued a 72-hour strike notice on Oct. 3.

READ MORE: Canfor sawmill workers ready to strike in Houston

Mill workers in Prince George were striking on Oct. 25 as part of USW Local 1-2017’s rotating strikes, which began mid-month, with Tolko Lakeview in Williams Lake taking job action on Oct. 17.

READ MORE: Prince George mill workers on picket line as northern union’s rotating strikes continue

Union president Brian O’Rourke told Houston Today last week that no mill represented by Local 1-2017 was currently striking.

“Hopefully we will be able to conclude a fair agreement that will set pattern in the forest industry,” he said, referring to negotiations taking place in Kelowna last week.

– With files from Melanie Law

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