About 150 people found out they will be losing their jobs in Quesnel after Tolko Industries Ltd. announced Friday, May 10 that it will be permanently closing its Quest Wood sawmill in Quesnel.
Tolko also announced a reduction from two shifts to one at its Kelowna sawmill.
“This is a difficult but necessary decision,” Brad Thorlakson, president and CEO, said in press release. “Quest Wood has been part of the Tolko family since 1981 and Kelowna since 2004 when we acquired Riverside Forest Products.
“Unfortunately, we do not have enough economic fibre to keep all of our British Columbia mills running efficiently and productively. We knew that AAC [annual allowable cut] reductions were coming in British Columbia due to the devastation caused by the Mountain Pine Beetle epidemic. The curtailments announced today are sooner than anticipated due to uneconomic log costs, weak lumber markets and the catastrophic impacts of wildfires.”
The Quest Wood closure process will begin Aug. 2. Approximately 150 employees are impacted, according to the press release.
Thorlakson says he recognizes today will be a hard day for many, and with that in mind, Tolko’s human resources team is on-site today and will be providing support to employees at both mills throughout the transition.
“This is a business decision and does not reflect on the commitment or work of our employees at these two operations,” said Thorlakson. “They have made significant contributions to Tolko over many years, and we are grateful for their efforts. We will be working with a number of agencies to help people transition to new employment, and we will do everything we can to provide opportunities at other Tolko divisions to minimize the impact on employees and their families.”
Representatives from Tolko’s Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) are also available on-site and by phone to assist impacted employees. This service will be made available to employees over the coming weeks to help them with any emotional issues and with financial and career planning.
“These decisions have been made after a long and detailed analysis and are necessary for the long-term prosperity of Tolko and are consistent with our commitment to sustainability,” said Thorlakson, adding that all remaining Tolko divisions would continue operating on their regular schedules.
The reduction in shifting at the Kelowna mill is effective July 12 and will impact approximately 90 employees.
These two decisions will remove 250 million board feet from Tolko’s production in B.C., according to the press release.