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Canfor delays decision to replace sawmill in Houston

It’s now seeking assurance of a secure fibre supply
The Canfor Houston mill has been closed since early spring. (Angelique Houlihan/Houston Today)

Canfor has delayed a final decision on whether it will build a new sawmill in Houston or not.

In a brief paragraph as part of its second quarter of 2023 results, the company said planning and technical work has been completed but that access to a fibre supply remains unknown.

“Work to assess the availability of an adequate supply of economic fibre to support an investment of this size and scope is continuing,” the release indicated.

“This work includes discussions with the Government of BC to seek assurances on the long-term fibre supply outlook for the region. Management hopes to conclude these discussions within the coming weeks.”

The announcement this afternoon continues a period of uncertainty which began this past winter when the company announced it was closing its current sawmill in the spring.

The company cited high operating costs and an uncertain fibre supply as reasons.

More than 300 direct employees were affected by the announcement and scores have already left for jobs elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the District of Houston says it is disappointed Canfor has delayed a decision.

“While our hopes were high for positive news today, we recognize the intricate complexities associated with significant investments and the diligent process that Canfor must undertake to ensure a successful outcome,” it said in a statement.

“We will continue to engage with both government and industry partners, advocating for the unique potential our town offers as a desirable investment destination,” the statement continued.

The District added that the mayor and council would provide support and assistance to Canfor and the province in discussions about the region’s fibre supply.

“Recognizing the challenges posed by this situation, we understand the uncertainties faced by workers, families, and businesses, and extend our empathy and understanding to all those affected,” the statement said.

Also disappointed was the Houston and District Chamber of Commerce in calling upon the company and the provincial government to redouble efforts to reach a fibre supply agreement.

“The longer the decision is delayed, the more profound the impact on our community’s economy and overall well-being. We eagerly await a decision that will enable us to move forward together,” the chamber said.

About the Author: Rod Link

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