An energetic rally by workers in the north-central British Columbia community of Mackenzie has highlighted the desperate situation facing many forestry-dependent communities across the province. Softwood lumber is pictured at Tolko Industries in Heffley Creek, B.C., Sunday, April, 1, 2018. Three wood products operations in Mackenzie closed indefinitely or cut back hours this summer, blaming high log costs and adverse market conditions. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Big rally in northern B.C. draws attention to continuing lumber crisis

Mayor Joan Atkinson says about 400 workers have been directly affected by the closure of the Canfor mill

An energetic rally by workers in Mackenzie in north-central British Columbia has highlighted the desperate situation facing many forestry-dependent communities across the province.

Three wood products operations in Mackenzie closed indefinitely or cut hours this summer, blaming high log costs and adverse market conditions.

Mayor Joan Atkinson says about 400 workers have been directly affected by the closure of the Canfor mill and slowdowns at two other operations, including the Conifex sawmill which is not due to reopen until Sept. 2.

Atkinson says at least another 400 indirect jobs are on the line in the community of 3,500, where there’s also concern for the future of the Paper Excellence pulp mill because it relies on sawdust from the lumber operations.

ALSO READ: State of local financial crisis declared in Fort St. James

Forests Minister Doug Donaldson joined as many as 1,000 people at the Thursday rally.

He said the B.C. government is working closely with Conifex to ensure its Mackenzie sawmill restarts next month with enough fibre to support it and the pulp mill through the winter.

About two dozen mills across B.C.’s interior have declared closures or production cuts this year because of volatile lumber markets.

With more than 20 per cent of Mackenzie’s workforce directly or indirectly affected, Atkinson says the large turnout at the rally doesn’t surprise her.

“This is a perfect example of the community coming to let the province, industry, corporate shareholders, everyone, know that our community matters,” she said.

Donaldson said he made further requests for federal support for hard-hit communities as recently as last week when he attended the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers meeting. (CKPG)

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19: Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation asks Tofino businesses for support as emergency funding runs dry

“We need to pay for the work they do. It’s such important work.”

DFO says the five aggrieved B.C First Nations were consulted on fisheries plan

Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations calls response ‘a sham,’ adding DFO never incorporates their views

Three active COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island

Since July 24, Central island has had five new cases, North one, South none

Canada can lead the way to save sharks from extinction, says fisheries expert

“Combined with fishing extraction numbers, sharks experience huge losses in the environment.”

Five Vancouver Island First Nations call out Canada for ‘discriminatory’ food fish practices

West Coast nations say government ignoring court-won right to chinook and coho

B.C. records new COVID-19 death, 85 more cases; Horgan calls on celebrity help

This brings the total number of active confirmed cases to 531 across the province

Horvat scores 2 as Vancouver Canucks beat Blues 5-2 in NHL playoff opener

Game 2 in best-of-seven series goes Friday night

Old-growth forest defenders in Campbell River call for B.C. forest minister’s resignation

Protestors outside North Island MLA’s office ask government to stop old-growth logging

Teachers to get 2 extra days to prepare for students’ return, now set for Sept. 10

Students will first start with orientation and learn rules of COVID-19 classroom policies

High-volume littering at Cape Scott draws ire from hiking groups

Popular Vancouver Island hiking spot not closing, but frustration about crowding grows

SFU to drop ‘Clan’ varsity team name

The ‘Clan’ name is shortened from ‘Clansmen,’ and was introduced roughly 55 years ago

New Tory leader must build a strong team in Commons and for the campaign: Scheer

Scheer marked his final day in the House of Commons today as leader of the Opposition

B.C. to hire 500 more COVID-19 contact tracers ahead of fall

Contract tracers add an ‘extra layer’ in the fight against the novel coronavirus

More than $800,000 in suspected cocaine seized from ship near Victoria

RCMP Dive Team suspects more narcotics had been stored below ship’s waterline

Most Read