Grim news that has roamed B.C. like an economic pine beetle landed in the North Thompson Valley this week, leaving a region shaken and about families wondering about life after the mill.
Canfor will permanently close its sawmill in Vavenby, near Clearwater, and will sell its timber rights to Interfor Corp. for $60 million — pending provincial government approval.
The reasons for the decision to shut the mill and throw hundreds of lives into disarray are familiar to communities that rely on the forestry industry to prop up the economy: long-term log supply constraints and the high cost of fibre.
A year ago, lumber was trading at an all-time high. Today, it is trading at half that value.
Like the oil patch, the forestry sector can operate on a boom-bust cycle, and this latest news in Vavenby will sound familiar to many across B.C. as a number of mills have been closed or temporarily shut down this spring.
Clearwater Mayor Merlin Blackwell is trying to figure out the future of his community — home to many Canfor mill workers — and region and knows the closure only further highlights the need for communities everywhere to diversify their economies.
It is, of course, easier said than done, but diversification must be the focus, as it was and continues to be in Kamloops, with this city’s economy sharply different than what it was even two decades ago.
In the meantime, those affected by this terrible economic news — from those directly impacted in Vavenby and Clearwater to those indirectly hit all the way down the North Thompson Valley to Kamloops — will need support.
The United Way is ready to step up and we hope others will, too, in whatever way they can.