City of Houston in British Columbia holds meeting for workers impacted by planned closure of West Fraser Timber's sawmill, mayor acknowledges company's efforts to help employees find work

LOS ANGELES , December 10, 2013 () – The city of Houston in British Columbia is beginning the process of helping workers impacted by the planned permanent closure of West Fraser Timber Co.'s sawmill there, according to a Dec. 9 report by HQ Prince George.

The closure is part of a mountain pine beetle plan currently being reviewed by Canada's Competition Bureau, which includes an agreement with Canfor Corp. to swap timber harvesting rights in British Columbia's Interior. Under the plan announced on Oct. 24, Canfor will close its Quesnel sawmill in March 2014, and West Fraser will close its Houston plant by next May.

Over the weekend of Dec. 7 and 8, the town held a convention on moving forward at Northwest Community College's local campus. The event aimed to provide information on retraining opportunities and unemployment insurance benefits for workers affected by the closure, HQ Price George reported.

The town's mayor Bill Holmberg also met with the province's Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Steven Thomson, to discuss the impact of the imminent closure.

Holmberg said people had been "fairly positive" after the meeting, but noted that the closure would hit the community hard. He acknowledged the efforts of West Fraser to help employees find work and said some of the workers would take up positions with Canfor's mill in Houston.

Holmberg said a second meeting had been scheduled with Thomson, and it was possible that another public meeting would follow.

The primary source of this article is is HQ Prince George, Prince George, British Columbia, on Dec. 9, 2013.

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