District of Houston Mayor Shane Brienen says the community is still picking up the pieces after Canfor announced a two-year closure of its mill.
In a community of just over 3-thousand, it will put over 300 residents out of work.
Brienen told Vista Radio adverse times in the forestry sector are nothing new to them.
“I don’t wanna say we are lucky but having been through this in 2014 when we had a timber swap makes us realize that we know what we are in for. We do know the steps and we do know some of the things that have to get done.”
He adds all neighboring communities along the northwest are heavily reliant on each other – so when one community faces a major closure, the one nearest to it will feel the pinch in its local economy.
“As you go out into the northwest and see the other smaller communities, yeah they are spaced out but we rely on each other so much. If your neighboring community is hurting you’ll feel it. If Smithers is hurting Houston is hurting. If you talk to any community like Vanderhoof when Fort Saint James is hurting it ripples through there.”
“It’s all part of that supply chain and it’s all part of the local economy and it’s really tough. We’ve talked to the government about that for years that we don’t need winners and losers, we need everybody to have something and we don’t need to be dividing it up.”
Brienan who is an employee at the Houston mill stated it’s been a perfect storm of issues for the sector over the past few years, which has greatly impacted the northern region
“We had a pine beetle where we knew we were headed into mid-term timber. We’ve had tariffs, we’ve had bigger forests fires than we have ever seen before and we’ve had stumpage that’s been up and down. That has been really hard this time around because when prices are good mills are paying more for timber and when prices sink, they have timber in their yard that they have to get money out of.”
Canfor has been the major employer in the district since 1969.
The company also announced the permanent closure of its Chetwynd operations, displacing 157 employees.
Two weeks ago, Canfor also slashed 300 positions from its pulp line at the Prince George Pulp and Paper Mill.