The Canfor and West Fraser timber swap in October 2013 meant closure for Houston Forest Products and a Canfor sawmill in Quesnel.

The Canfor and West Fraser timber swap in October 2013 meant closure for Houston Forest Products and a Canfor sawmill in Quesnel.

District files Freedom of Information request

The District of Houston wants information from the Competition Bureau on the recent ruling about the Canfor and West Fraser timber swap.

  • Apr. 1, 2015 12:00 p.m.

The District of Houston wants more information from the Competition Bureau on the recent ruling about the Canfor and West Fraser timber swap.

The District sent a Freedom of Information Request to the Province in early-March.

Canfor traded West Fraser their timber rights in Quesnel for West Fraser’s timber in Houston. Announced October 2013, the deal included shutting down Houston Forest Products (HFP) and a Canfor sawmill in Quesnel.

The Federal Competition Bureau and the Provincial government reviewed the trade of timber licences to see if it restricted the competitive market.

The B.C. Minister of Forests can cancel forest licences if something unduly restricts the competition in the market for timber, logs or chips.

The Competition Bureau ruled March 3 that the exchange of timber rights between Canfor and West Fraser did not unduly restrict competition.

The Federal Bureau refused to comment on the ruling.

Ministry of Forests Public Affairs Officer Greig Bethel said the provincial assessment found that “while the mill closures did reduce the number of processors, the tenure exchange itself did not in an of itself unduly restrict competition.”

He said “the regions declining timber supply will lead to fibre supply challenges so the tenure exchange (in addition to the mill closures) will provide for a more efficient supply of timber for mills that remain open.”

Houston Mayor Shane Brienen said the Minister of Forests called him March 3 about the Competition Bureau ruling.

Brienen says the Province feels there are enough companies operating in this area: West Fraser operates Pacific Inland Resources in Smithers and Hampton Affiliates runs Babine Forest Products in Burns Lake.

“They don’t feel [Canfor] has the whole market to themselves,” he said.

“Three is the magic number in competition,” added Councillor Jonathan Van Barnevald.

Van Barneveld says he is not surprised by the ruling.

“From the get-go, people knew that nothing was going to change that deal,” he said.

Mayor Brienen agreed.

“We felt all along that they would allow it.

“I don’t know if it is the best thing for Houston, or if it is the best for the Province because at the end of the day, if you don’t have strong competition out there, then you’re not getting the best dollar and stumpage could go down.”

Brienen said he thinks “what was going on in Quesnel really moved that deal ahead.”

Looking at the timber supply review and coming harvest cutbacks, “you can see we have five years or so left before we were running into major trouble,” Brienen said.

“It was coming eventually, and we were going to have trouble with our fibre supply, but it came a little sooner just because of the way things were going in Quesnel and how the puzzle fit together for those two companies.”

Van Barneveld agreed.

“You can see how the deal in Quesnel probably needed to happen. And Houston Forest Products was basically the victim of that deal.”

Van Barneveld says Houston people seem skeptical of the Competition Bureau process.

“It’s so secretive and not very transparent. You don’t know what’s being analyzed and what’s not,” he said.

“It’s hard not to feel jilted.”

Looking ahead, VanBarneveld says it is the end of previous lobbying for some of West Fraser’s timber rights to go to Community Forests.

“The ruling basically puts the nail in the coffin a little bit for any further advocacy for smaller operators,” he said.

Asked how he views the timber market, Van Barneveld said he can’t say.

“In generalities, one less operator is less competition,” he said.

“It’s one less person competing for wood.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just Posted

Jill Mackenzie carefully replaces books on the shelves at the Houston Public Library. (Angelique Houlihan photo)
District approves annual library grant

Craft kits featured for summer reading club

The tradition of Houston Christian School grads giving Bibles to incoming kindergarten students will take place this year, but outdoors and in a modified fashion. (File photo)
Houston Christian School grad day is June 24

Grads themselves have set tone for the day, says teacher

Scott Richmond will be starting as the new vice principal for HSS and TSE. (Submitted/Houston Today)
Houston gets a new vice principal

Scott Richmond takes over from Dwayne Anderson who moved to Smithers

A Pacific Salmon Foundation grant of $3,000 is going towards the tree plantations. (Cindy Verbeek photo/Houston Today)
550 trees planted in Houston through A Rocha

Houston Christian School students and volunteers help with the tree planting

Currently the Houston station has 16 paramedics, two ambulances and one community paramedic vehicle. (File photo)
Retirement of longtime paramedics worries Houston community

“No loss of service,” assures BC Emergency Health Services

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
BC Green leader Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

B.C. Premier John Horgan leaves his office for a news conference in the legislature rose garden, June 3, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. premier roasted for office budget, taxing COVID-19 benefits

Youth addiction law that triggered election hasn’t appeared

A vial containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is shown at a vaccination site in Marcq en Baroeul, outside Lille, northern France, Saturday, March 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michel Spingler
mRNA vaccines ‘preferred’ for all Canadians, including as 2nd dose after AstraZeneca: NACI

New recommendations prioritizes Pfizer, Moderna in almost all cases

Most Read