Mayor reacts to LP curtailment

Mayor Mike Bernier said the short-term impacts of the curtailment to the local economy cannot be understated, but most especially for the employees affected and their families.

"For the families of the people affected this is a really unfortunate situation," he said. "Louisiana Pacific has been a staple of the community for quite a few decades now and a major employer in our community, so it's quite a loss. I'm encouraged to hear that at least there will be some employees left on and they are not completely mothballing the facility in hopes the economy will turn around for their industry."

Bernier, who also acts as economic development officer for the city, said Dawson Creek is fortunate compared to many other communities in the province that are solely reliant on the forestry sector and their mills in that other sectors of the local economy are doing well, and he is hopeful some of the laid off workers will find other opportunities locally.

He added the management at the local mill deserves credit for being able to withstand the downturn in the forestry sector that has resulted in many other mills closing down in other communities.

The struggles of the local mill are not new as it has been forced through temporary curtailments before in the last couple of years. Early last year, in the midst of a three-month curtailment at the plant, city council approved some relief for LP in the form of lowering the major industrial tax rate to $19.15 per $1,000 of assessed value from $42.29 the previous year. Bernier said he believes council would certainly be open to looking at further measures to help the local mill, but in talking with management there, it is not clear if further tax relief would change the situation.

"When a good bulk of their sales go across the border for housing starts – and that's not happening right now in the United States – that is what has put them in this unfortunate situation."

The mayor said he is encouraged by the statements coming from the local manager and from the company that the mill will continue to operate in anticipation of a turnaround in the market for oriented strand board (OSB) products.

"We have the expertise and infrastructure in place to be able to produce these products for the United States," he said. "We don’t have control over what happens down in their markets, but I know if the market does turn around – and we know it will, it's just a matter of when – we have the ability to start up right away, I'm told."