Canfor to shut mill again

This time for four days in February

Canfor workers are to undergo another closure, this time in February, as the company copes with high logging and low product prices. (Shiela Pepping photo)

Canfor workers are to undergo another closure, this time in February, as the company copes with high logging and low product prices. (Shiela Pepping photo)

Canfor is closing its mill here again as part of a company-wide effort to reduce production in the face of lower prices and high logging costs.

This closure, from Feb. 19 to Feb. 22, follows an extended Christmas shutdown.

The company’s mill in Mackenzie is also closing for a week and its Vavenby mill, located north of Kamloops on Hwy5, is closing for six weeks from Feb. 11 to March 22.

Company official Michelle Ward said there was nothing specific to Houston that made its operation here more susceptible to a closure than at other of Canfor’s operations.

“Many of our mills are faced with similar challenges,” she said.

“There are a number of factors across BC contributing to the constrained log supply and log costs including the decreasing annual allowable cut, increased competition for fibre driving prices higher and the last two wildfire seasons.”

Although production will cease, care and maintenance will continue, said Ward.

“In combination, these curtailments will reduce Canfor’s production output by approximately 40 million board feet,” the company said in a Jan. 300 release.

“This is in addition to the approximately 150 million board feet of production capacity that was curtailed by Canfor in the fourth quarter of 2018 and earlier in 2019.”

The Houston facility has been owned by Canfor since 1999 and after an extensive expansion program, was unveiled in 2004 as the world’s largest sawmill with an annual production capacity of 600 million board feet of dimension lumber.

It employs approximately 385 people, including those in its woodlands section.

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

Canfor and other companies are also continuing to bargain with unionized employees in hopes of reaching a new contract.

Members of the United Steel Workers staged a series of rotating strikes throughout the province last year to press for a new contract of wage increases and benefits improvements.