West Fraser's Houston, British Columbia, sawmill prepares for permanent closure as planned, with more than 200 workers clocking out on May 9 for last time; Mayor expects C$500,000 impact on district's tax base

LOS ANGELES , May 13, 2014 () – The permanent closure of West Fraser Timber Co.’s Houston, British Columbia, sawmill draws near, with more than 200 workers having clocked out for the last time on May 9, CFTKTV.com reported on May 9.

West Fraser announced in October 2013 it would close its Houston lumber mill in Q2, 2014, with the loss of 225 jobs, as part of comprehensive mountain pine beetle (MPB) plan that also involves investments in upgrades at its Smithers and 100 Mile House mills, and the exchange of some timber rights with Canfor Corp.

A Houston employee said a lot of workers were transferring to other mills, and many were moving out of town, CFTKTV.com reported.

Houston Chamber of Commerce president Troy Reitsma said the business community had rallied to deal with the consequence of the shut in the six months since it was announced, and that new businesses were being opened in Houston.

Mayor Bill Holmberg noted Houston’s tax base would be hit next year to the tune of about C$500,000, but added “we're trying to make some internal cost cutting in the district itself so we don't have to eat all that money."

West Fraser and Canfor described the MPB agreement in separate news releases on Oct. 24, 2013. The agreement also involved Canfor permanently closing its Quesnel, British Columbia, sawmill and the exchange of forest tenure rights in Quesnel TSA, Lakes TSA and Morice TSA. As previously reported, Canfor closed its Quesnel sawmill on schedule, on March 17.

The primary sources of this article are CFTK-TV BC North, Terrace, British Columbia, May 9, 2014, and Industry Intelligence archives. To view the original CFTK-TV article, click here.

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