Canfor to build new manufacturing facility after closure of BC sawmill

Vancouver-based Canfor has announced plans to build a new manufacturing facility in Houston, BC, about eight months after the forestry firm shut down its sawmill in the same community of about 3,000 residents.

A statement from Canfor says the company will spend about $200 million to build the “low cost, high efficiency” facility with site preparation scheduled for next spring.

Forests Minister Bruce Ralston welcomed the announcement, saying it’s “good news” for the community, forestry workers and the industry overall.

Ralston says “there is no question” that BC’s forest industry is in a period of transition and Canfor’s move represents “an important step forward.”

In his mandate letter to Ralston last year, Premier David Eby wrote that the sector had “never been under greater stress” due to factors including severe wildfires, “inadequate land use planning” by previous governments and the long-standing dispute over the softwood lumber trade between Canada and the United States.

Canfor CEO Don Kayne says in a statement that the plan to build the manufacturing facility underscores the company’s “ongoing commitment” to BC and Houston.

He says the decision came after comprehensive evaluations of customer requirements and the availability of economically viable wood fibre in the region.

Mike Bernier, the Opposition BC United forestry critic, said Canfor’s investment is exciting news for the region and the entire forest sector.

“We are pleased that Canfor is making such a significant investment in northern BC and for demonstrating its confidence in our province’s dedicated forestry workers and resource-dependent communities,” Bernier says in a statement.

Kayne says work is beginning right away on project engineering and permitting requirements, with vendor and equipment selection to be completed in early 2024.

He says the planning, construction and commissioning of the new facility is expected to take between 28 and 32 months.

The facility is expected to have an annual production capacity about 350 million board feet, the Canfor statement says.