Mayor of Chetwynd “disappointed” about sawmill shut down

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CHETWYND, B.C. — Chetwynd Mayor Allen Courtoreille has expressed his disappointment with Canfor’s recent announcement to shut down its local sawmill in April

Canfor confirmed in a press release late Wednesday that the Chetwynd sawmill and pellet plant will be closed permanently.

According to Courtoreille, 157 employees will be directly impacted by this announcement.

“It’s a disappointment today that Canfor is shutting down the mill,” Courtoreille said.

“They gave us an opportunity to raise our kids, purchase houses in and around Chetwynd.”

Courtoreille worked at the mill for 41 years before retiring and becoming mayor of the District of Chetwynd.

According to Courtoreille, some of the mill’s current employees’ tenures reach even further than his.

“I feel for the people that are losing their jobs in April,” he said.

The Chetwynd mayor explained the remaining hourly workers and staff at the mill will no longer have jobs with Canfor when the final logs in the yard have been processed by the end of May.

“I believe the writing’s been on the wall for a while in B.C. on fibre,” he explained.

“When we talked to [the Canfor team] last night, the rationale of the closure is a shortage in marketable fibre.”

Courtoreille said various factors might have contributed to closure, including the damage the pine beetle did in the area a few years ago.

Though the mill is closing, Courtoreille said severance packages will assist in moving if need be, and those close to retirement will hopefully receive any additional help needed to retire.

According to Courtoreille, Canfor has been in Chetwynd for over 60 years. Because Courtoreille has lived in Chetwynd for most of his life, he holds both the mill and the community close to his heart.

“I’ve got an attachment to this mill and an attachment to my community.”

In addition to the mill, Chetwynd also has the CoastalGasLink in the area that contributes to the economy.

“I would like to say that it helped the economy that way, but it raised our prices in terms of rent,” the mayor explained.

“If you weren’t in those high-paying jobs, it was critical that you manage your money. And sometimes, if you didn’t have any to manage, that’s when it gets critical.”

The mill’s employees are not the only ones affected by the closure; their families and residents within the community will be impacted as well.

“We all feel real sorrow for the impact of Canfor’s decision,” Courtoreille concluded.

In addition to the permanent closure of the Chetwynd mill, Canfor’s mill in Houston will be temporarily closed to undergo significant redevelopment before returning to production.

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