Canfor shutdown likely to impact entire Chetwynd community

In late January, Canfor announced the permanent closure of its sawmill and pellet plant located in Chetwynd.

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FORT ST., JOHN, B.C. — In late January, Canfor announced the permanent closure of its sawmill and pellet plant located in Chetwynd, causing widespread shock and concern throughout the community. 

After roughly 60 years in operation, the sawmill shutdown will put around 180 employees out of work.

Because the population of Chetwynd is around 2,500 people, the shutdown isn’t just a loss for its workers. From the partners and spouses of mill employees to local business owners, the entire community will likely be affected somehow. 

Toni Marcer, owner of Flower Shop Cannabis in downtown Chetwynd, believes forestry is “the backbone of the majority of northern development in the area,” and is concerned for community members looking for work post-shutdown. 

“I think people always perceive this area as a great place to work in those industries,” said Marcer.

“A huge company like Canfor pulling out is daunting for everybody, and it makes you feel nervous. Are we headed for ghost town here?”

Carl Rose has been a business owner and community member in the heart of Chetwynd for the past 25 years. Aside from concerns for his own business, Lonestar Sporting Goods Inc., Rose expressed apprehension regarding the future of the tens of thousands of logs in the sawmill’s yard. 

Rose is concerned for the future of the logs in the sawmill’s yard. ( Jordan Prentice, )

“My belief is, is if you’re, if you’re walking out the door, then you leave the log license behind,” said Rose. 

“The lumber should stay in the community. We have another mill here that could probably use those logs. So, I don’t think they should go anywhere, and the other places can find their own.” 

In light of Canfor’s announcement, the Chetwynd Chamber of Commerce will meet with the BC Minister of Jobs, Economic Development, and Innovation next week to ensure a wide range of support is available for those who need it once the shutdown takes place.

The sawmill is set to shut down at the end of April or early in May of this year. ( Jordan Prentice, )

Chambers in Prince George and Houston will also be a part of the meeting and are seeking mental health and addiction support, retraining, safe housing, and family support after the mills shut down. 

“There is going to be help for these people and these families who are completely uprooted and whose lives are changing immediately,” said Naomi Larsen, executive director for the Chetwynd Chamber of Commerce.

“We want to make sure they’re taken care of to the best extent that they can be and not left to try and figure it out themselves and stumble around.”

Both Larsen and Courtoreille believe the community of Chetwynd is known for its resilience and will come out strong on the other side.

“I would like to thank those workers that stayed with Canfor, stayed at West Fraser, and all the workers in our community,” said Courtoreille. 

“That’s what makes communities – the resilience of our workers. And we’re going to be there again.”

The Canfor sawmill and pellet plant in Chetwynd are scheduled to shut down at the end of April, or early in May of this year. 

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