The Burns Lake village council agreed at its Sept. 10 meeting to write a letter of support for Hampton Lumber’s efforts to buy Conifex’ timber license and sawmill in Fort St. James.
Richard Vossen, Canadian Resource Manager with Hampton, wrote in a letter to mayor Dolores Funk that the company is preparing a package for the Honourable Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development with an outline of the purchase plans.
The manager asked that the letter mention Hampton’s relationship with the village and how it supports the community economically and socially.
“As part of the submission, we need to provide a rationale on why this will be good for the community of Fort St. James, local First Nations, the union and the local area in general,” Vossen wrote.
“Our plans to build a new sawmill will be beneficial for FSJ but will also provide benefits for our community and others in the area, as Hampton will have three sawmills in the interior and we will have synergies between the three plants that wil be able to benefit all communities from FSJ to Burns Lake. We really hope to grow on the model we have in Burns Lake, such as hiring, contracting and purchasing locally.”
In voicing his support for the letter bid, Councillor Charlie Rensby said the forestry company is “compared to many of the other lumber producers in the province pretty top notch to deal with when it comes to community partnerships, along with their additional support for First Nations in their mills.”
In late June Hampton and Conifex announced in a joint press release the plan for the sawmill in Fort St. James and the timber license.
The value of the entire deal is $39 million. It was not yet clear how much the license and sawmill are worth individually.
The mill sale affected more than 220 employees who have worked in the Fort St. James mill.
The license could yield 444,000 cubic metres in its Annual Allowable Cut (AAC), but as Steve Zika, Chief Executive Officer of Hampton said, its size is expected to be somewhat reduced by actions from the Chief Forester.
Speaking about the purchase in a letter addressed to the Fort St. James community and published in the Caledonia Courier, Zika said the wood from Conifex’ timber license would not be sent to Burns Lake mills.
“While timber supply is a constant challenge for our Burns Lake mills, we would not be building a new sawmill in Fort St. James if we were planning to take the licence wood to Burns Lake,” Zika wrote.
Hampton owns the Babine and Decker Lake Forest Products mills in Burns Lake, which are the Oregon-based company’s only Canadian operations.