Competition bureau rules on Houston timber swap

The Competition Bureau ruled last week that the 2014 Canfor and West Fraser exchange of timber rights did not restrict competitive market.

The Competition Bureau ruled last week that the timber rights exchange in July 2014 between Canfor and West Fraser did not “unduly restrict” the competitive market.

West Fraser and Canfor announced in October 2013 that they were exchanging timber rights. West Fraser closed Houston Forest Products and took over Canfor’s timber rights in Quesnel. Canfor closed their mill in Quesnel and took over West Fraser’s timber in Houston.

The legal process examining the swap’s impact on the timber market was two-fold, said Greig Bethel, Public Affairs Officer with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

First the “Federal Competition Bureau reviewed the transaction and decided not to take any action.”

Then the Ministry did a competition assessment.

Bethel says the Minister can cancel the forest licences if it’s determined that the competition in the standing markets for timber, logs or ships is unduly restricted.

“Given the pre-existing local market dynamics, the competition assessment did not identify any additional competition concerns,” Bethel said.

Bethel says the Minister has advised the Mayor of Houston, the companies and First Nations of his decision.

At a meeting last Tuesday, Houston councillor Rick Lundrigan said it is a white wash.

“Once again, Houston has been forsaken,” he said.