The Thompson-Nicola Regional District will request Canfor leave land, money or another legacy to the small North Thompson community of Vavenby, following news the company will permanently close its mill — the area’s main employer — in July.
Carol Schaffer, the TNRD director for Area A (Wells Gray Country), said discussions are ongoing with the company.
“I feel they need to leave something behind saying, ‘We were there’ and to say they appreciate Vavenby for all the time they were there,” she said.
Schaffer said when Weyerhaeuser shut down in the area, the company left $250,000 in a foundation, with the interest to be invested in community.
Asked if Canfor has given any indication it will leave some type of legacy to Vavenby, Schaffer said the company, at a recent meeting, said it would look into the idea.
“We’re going to have to have another meeting,” she said.
Schaffer made a motion at Thursday’s TNRD board meeting, which was supported by the board, to allow staff to negotiation with Canfor alongside Schaffer.
Schaffer said the community has had to endure years of truck traffic, dust and railroad crossing changes in light of the mill’s presence in the community of 700 about 90 minutes north of Kamloops on Highway 5.
Canfor cited current and long-term log supply constraints and the high cost of fibre as reasons for the decision to close the sawmill, which will leave 178 people without jobs. Canfor also wants to sell its timber rights in the area to Interfor Corp. for $60 million, though that transaction requires the approval of Forests Minister Doug Donaldson. Complicating matters is the fact the area Simpcw First Nation has stated it is opposed to the deal unless it has a role in forest management in his territory.
The Vavenby mill is the largest employer in the region, with North Thompson forestry having an economic spinoff of between $40 million and $60 million annually. The mill is central, processing fir logs cut within 100 kilometres of Clearwater and processed into dimensional lumber: two-by-fours, two-by-sixes and two-by-eights.