New old-growth logging rules threaten viability of Nakusp mill, owner warns – BC News

John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Valley Voice – | History: 364062

The owner of a sawmill in Nakusp warns that new provincial logging rules are hitting his business hard – and the village mayor says the province must act to protect jobs in the community.

Dan Wiebe says Box Lake Lumber needs a reprieve from new rules postponing the harvest of old logs in order to retool the operation to stay in business.

“We are looking at a one-year window to make a transition,” he told the voice of the valley. “We have already put some things in place to work on [relying] more on secondary wood.

Last fall, the provincial government announced it would postpone logging of old-growth forests “to prevent irreversible loss of biodiversity while First Nations, the province and other partners develop a new approach to sustainable forest management. forests that prioritizes healthy ecosystems and thriving communities”.

To support the postponement process, BC Timber Sales immediately ceased advertising and selling licenses in affected areas.

But the postponement means Box Lake Lumber has lost half the wood supply it needs to make its split-rail fencing, landscaping logs and other value-added wood products it sells. , says Wiebe. The company employs around 40 people and sells nationwide and in Europe.

But even if they survive, the nearly 40-year-old plant will likely be smaller than before.

“We’re trying to find a way forward – we’re trying to find a transition phase,” says Wiebe. “The factory has to adapt and it will certainly have to reduce its workforce.”

The mayor challenges the province

The mayor of Nakusp is also pushing for help with Box Lake Lumber. Tom Zeleznik has contacted local MP (and minister responsible for forests) Katrine Conroy to see what can be done to help the plant. He says a ministry official has already been to town to meet with the company.

“Takeaway from this meeting: Everyone understands that due to this new provincial forest land use planning, it may be difficult to find a short-term solution to keep it running,” Zeleznik wrote in a statement. report to his council. “However, by brainstorming together, we generated a few ideas. We’ll meet again soon to see if any ideas come to fruition.

Zeleznik says meetings are scheduled for late March to see what can be done to help Box Lake.

He noted that Box Lake has spent over $1 million on new equipment that would produce certified/stamped products for export from the region. But instead of growing, “without warning, community consultation, or time to adjust to these immediate changes, this business could close,” Zeleznik warned.

Weibe says it’s too early to tell what will happen to his business.

“We are only in the early stages, we will know more over time,” he says. “I’m trying to stay positive as it goes, and hopefully something can be done. But we won’t know until we give them the opportunity to do something.