MLA Davies slams NDP for forestry inaction after Fort St. John mill closure

The pending shutdown of the Peace Valley OSB mill in Fort St. John is the latest blow to B.C.’s struggling forestry sector, the Opposition BC Liberals say.

Louisiana Pacific announced the closure of the mill to employees Thursday. The bad economic news follows on the heels of announcements this week that Norbord will indefinitely curtail its OSB mill in 100 Mile House, and that Canfor will curtail operations at all but one of its sawmills in B.C.

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“This latest shutdown will put at least 190 workers out of work and will affect hundreds of additional indirect jobs. My community simply can’t afford this loss,” said Peace River North MLA Dan Davies said in a statement.

“For months my fellow MLAs and I have raised concerns about the mounting crisis in the forest industry and for months our concerns have been ignored. It’s time for John Horgan and the NDP to step up, take action and offer tangible solutions to address the crisis situation.”

The curtailments announced across B.C. so far in 2019 amount to hundreds of millions of board feet and at least 83 weeks of operational downtime, the BC Liberals said in a statement.

The shutdown in Fort St. John is indefinite, putting at least 190 workers out of a job.

“Despite efforts by our Peace Valley team to reduce costs over the past several months, this decision is necessary to support the optimization of our OSB business in challenging market conditions,” said Jason Ringblom, LP Executive Vice President for OSB, in a statement.

“Declining housing starts, high wood costs and associated cost pressures require us to take this action that aligns with our performance driven strategy.” 

Work will reportedly continue at the mill until the August 9 shut down. Employees will be paid through until early September, and then receive a severance package, sources say. There is no timeline on when the mill could reopen.

The mill is the city's largest taxpayer, paying $1.05 million in property taxes last year. 

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca.

[Editor's Note: this story has been updated with comments from Louisiana Pacific.]

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