Specialty lumber production at Western Forest Products’ Cowichan Bay sawmill. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

LETTER: Western Forest Products remains focused on B.C. employment

$350 million invested on B.C. coast in last six years, CEO says

Re: Another B.C. forest company looks south for lumber mill expansion (Business, Feb. 2)

Thank you for continuing to write about the forest industry, which as a key driver of the provincial economy is critically important to families and communities across the province. I would like to provide further context to Tom Fletcher’s article.

On Friday, Feb. 1, we completed our acquisition of Columbia Vista sawmill located in Vancouver, Washington. This acquisition supports our overall business and employment in B.C. as it enables us to meet the needs of our customers who are demanding more Douglas fir products. By combining Columbia Vista’s Douglas fir specialty products with Western’s B.C. hemlock production, we can secure the relationship with our customers by consistently meeting the demands of their businesses through our ability to deliver the products they want, in the quantities they need, when they need them.

Over the last six years, Western has invested over $350 million in our B.C. business. This represents the largest investment in coastal sawmilling, of any company, in decades. These investments enable Western to employ more than 3,500 people in our company and contractor operations. At Western, it is our goal to sustainably grow, harvest and manufacture the full profile of the coastal forest. This practice is essential to maintaining a viable forest sector and healthy resilient forests.

We remain fully committed to domestic manufacturing, and like the provincial government, we too would like to see more logs made available to local sawmills. It should be noted that last year Western exported less than three per cent of the logs we harvested.

Unfortunately, despite the best lumber market in memory and our commitment to local manufacturing, we were unable to access the log supply we required to utilize the full operating potential of our mills. As markets have now taken a downturn and log costs remain persistently high, we must re-evaluate our log export program to ensure we can continue to provide jobs in our harvesting business to support our employees and communities.

Lumber producers on the coast of B.C. are faced with the highest duty costs on lumber shipments into the U.S. of any region in Canada. We also must compete for logs with jurisdictions like Japan that offer massive subsidies to their forest products industries allowing them to pay more for the B.C. logs they import.

We remain committed to working with the government to support our industry in creating business hosting conditions and an operating environment that will keep us competitive while avoiding policies that add costs or further restrict supply to global lumber customers. A positive, competitive operating environment will not only benefit the businesses that have invested here but will also benefit all 24,000 coastal forest sector employees, First Nations, communities and all British Columbians.

Don Demens, President and CEO, Western Forest Products

Just Posted

Province announces $100-million grant funding for Northwest communities

The Northern Capital and Planning Grant will go to four regional districts and 22 municipalities

Prince Rupert Gas Transmission project searches for partners

TransCanada is renewing permits for its natural gas pipeline project to North Coast.

Coastal GasLink stops work to investigate archaeological find

OGC archaeologists are en route to the Houston-area site where Unist’ot’en report finding stone tools

All Native Basketball Tournament Day 5: Recap

Highlights and results from day 5 at the All Native Tournament

All Native Basketball Tournament Day 6: Preview

Look ahead to all the action scheduled for Feb. 16 at the All Native Tournament

Trudeau’s principal secretary, Gerald Butts, resigns amid SNC-Lavalin furor

Butts categorically denies the accusation that he or anyone else in the PMO improperly pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould

Lost a ring? This B.C. man will find it for you

Chris Turner founded The Ring Finders, an international directory of metal detector hobbyists

Poverty coalition has high hopes for B.C. poverty reduction strategy

Funding allocation expected to be released with 2019 budget

‘How did we get here?’: B.C. mom of transplant recipient worries about measles outbreaks

Addison, 7, cannot get a live vaccine because she has a heart transplant

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh calls for public inquiry over SNC-Lavalin questions

Vancouver member of Parliament Jody Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet last week

Canadian airlines waiting for guidance from Ottawa over X gender option

Major U.S. airlines said they will change their process so passengers can identify themselves along non-binary lines

Moose Hide campaign takes message to Canadian schools

Campaign launches new K-12 education platform

‘Violent’ B.C. man wanted on Canada-wide warrant

Prince George man with ties to Vernon sought by police

Homicide police investigate assault turned deadly in Surrey

60-year-old man died at hospital after assault

Most Read