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HomeNews“I just don’t know when enough is enough with these guys”: Steidle...

“I just don’t know when enough is enough with these guys”: Steidle on latest Canfor closures

“This is devastating news for Northern BC, this is going to have ripple effects across the economy, across our communities.”

That’s from Stop the Spray BC’s James Steidle in reaction to Canfor’s announcement that they would be closing mills in Houston and Chetwynd.

Steidle also recently organized a rally following Canfor’s announcement of the closure of the pulp line at the PG Pulp and Paper Mill.

“People are going to have to leave, a place like Houston where you have 300 people working at the mill, that’s going to have a huge impact,” Steidle said

“Over the years I’ve made the argument that none of this ever needed to happen. It’s also worth pointing out we’ve lost thousands of jobs in Northern BC as we were logging the pine beetle, as we ramped up logging, we were shedding jobs.”

He added these job losses are nothing new, and are the result of creating ‘super mills’

“The Houston Mill is one of the biggest mills in the world. When we created these huge, high capacity, high production mills, that require way more logs for way less employees, the writing was already kind of on the wall,” Steidle explained.

“The economic model we’ve committed to here is not about sustaining communities, it’s not about sustaining workers, it’s about maximizing profitability for these huge corporations that aren’t based out of our area anymore. Back in the day, we did have locally owned mills, we employed a lot of people per unit of timber harvested, and we got rid of all that and basically have been replacing rural labour with big city money, big city capitalism, big machines, big automation and computers, and this is what’s happening.”

In the Houston Mill’s case, Canfor says their intent is “to build a new, modern, globally competitive manufacturing facility that employs state-of-the-art technology to produce high-value products from the sustainable timber supply in the region.”

Steidle said he suspects this will bring more automation and technology to the mill, resulting in fewer jobs.

“There’s probably going to be less jobs and more wood being harvested so that they can maintain their global competitiveness,” he explained.

“Let’s not forget, Canfor earned $1.3 billion in profit last year after tax. I just don’t know when enough is enough with these guys, I don’t think there ever is enough, they’re just going to keep taking more and more, and we’re going to get less and less.”

Steidle said we need to go back to a ‘small mill model’.

“We have to got back to the principle which we handed out timber tenures to these companies from day one, which was ‘jobs for logs, we give you the logs, you give us the jobs’,” he said.

“If that’s not happening anymore, then we need to go back and ask why our publicly-owned timber is being exclusively given to these companies. I think we need to take that back and give it back to the community, get some smaller mills, locally owned mills running, because we can make money on smaller mills, using less wood and employing more people.”

He said he’s hoping to bring the community together for a forum to discuss the issue.

“We need to have a major roundtable on the future of forestry in our community, and how we can make sure the industry and our publicly owned timber supports our communities.”

“I think that’s got to be the priority, and what we’re seeing with all these mill closures is that’s not the priority. The priority is corporate profitability, and basically taking as much from our area as they possibly can and giving as little back in return.”

Steidle added they do not have a date set for a forum yet.

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