Tolko to close Creekside mill

Tolko Industries Ltd. announced Nov. 16 it will permanently close its Creekside mill in Williams Lake.

Tolko Industries Ltd. announced Nov. 16 it will permanently close its Creekside mill in Williams Lake.

The closure will not affect its Lakeview and Soda Creek mills the company said, adding it will now turn its focus to making the Lakeview and Soda Creek mills in the city commercially competitive over the long run.

The company purchased the Creekside dimension lumber mill in October 2004, along with the Lakeview and Soda Creek mills. The two facilities at the Creekside site were previously owned by Riverside Forest Products.

At this point Tolko does not know what will happen with the Creekside mill assets.

Site manager Mike Everard said Tolko’s immediate focus is to meet its obligations to the people that were employed at the Creekside, adding 46 per cent of the employees went to other Tolko operations.

“We are largely focused on looking after our obligations in a timely and accurate fashion,” Everard explained, adding there are 167 affected employees. “There are collective bargaining agreement requirements to be met and there is also the employment standard’s act requirements to be met. Tolko is fulfilling those obligations to the letter.”

United Steelworkers Local 1-425 president Paul French said the union is making the best of a bad situation.

“We have been watching this for some time with the sawmill not running and the planer running periodically. It’s been quite a hardship on our members, quite a few of them have found jobs elsewhere, but we’ve had quite a few people that were forced into retirement.”

The union is “quite relieved” that Tolko has come forward and said the best decision is for Tolko to announce closure and hopefully make Lakeview a better sight, French said, adding the union applauds the company for “doing the right thing.”

“They followed the collective agreement and so we’re appreciative they’ve done this. People will get severance. There are people that have already got employment within Tolko’s other two divisions. The big thing is it gives people certainty. They know where they are.”

Since the temporary closure in 2009, it has been difficult because employees didn’t know if it was going to reopen or not.

“It’s always been the story that it was going to reopen so there was always the hope that something was going to happen. At least now they know that today has come and we have to move forward and get on with our lives,” French said.

When an indefinite curtailment of the mill’s operations was first announced on Feb. 4 in 2009, the market had shrunk to one quarter of its former size, Everard said.

“That was crushing. It was very very hard. The forest industry went through its worse economic period in recorded history, worse than the 1940s. It’s been brutal. I think all the forest companies did what they had to do to survive. At this point the current industry demand is still half of what it was.”

French agreed the decline in the market for dimension lumber was a main factor in the closure of Creekside, as well as the uncertainty of the timber supply.

“Without anyone really knowing the true inventory that’s out there, the real picture for Tolko, I’m hoping, is that they are going to have what they have and survive. That they’ll be looking out for the best interest of Tolko within the community of Williams Lake. I’m applauding that goal.”

People have forgotten that the mill has been closed as long as it was, French added.

“It doesn’t affect you when your neighbour’s laid off or the guy down the road, but when it happens to you, that’s when reality hits. I guess the thing here is that it lightens the burden on an awful lot of people and hopefully this is the last closure we see in Williams Lake.”

 

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

Just Posted

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Interior Health reported 43 new COVID-19 cases in the region Feb. 23, 2021 and no additional deaths. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
43 new cases of COVID reported in Interior Health

No new deaths, Williams Lake outbreak over

A COVID-19 sign is seen last spring at the First Nations community of Canim Lake (Tsq’ scen). (Martina Dopf photo)
Another Canim Lake elder dies of COVID-19

The man was the husband of an elder who died last month outside the community.

Pink Shirt Day is Feb. 24.
This Pink Shirt Day let’s ‘lift each other up’

There are several warning signs regarding bullying:

The COVID-19 cluster in the Williams Lake area has been declared contained by Interior Health. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Interior Health declares Williams Lake area COVID-19 cluster contained

Four new cases have been reported since Feb. 19

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after a news conference at the legislature in Victoria on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. reports 559 new cases of COVID-19, one death

4,677 cases of the virus remain active in the province; 238 people are in hospital

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Vancouver Canucks left wing Antoine Roussel (26) tries to get a shot past Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith (41) during second period NHL action in Vancouver, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canucks cough up 3-0 lead, fall 4-3 to visiting Edmonton Oilers

Vancouver falls to 8-13-2 on the NHL season

Jessica McCallum-Miller receives her signed oath of office from city chief administrative officer Heather Avison on Nov. 5, 2018 after being elected to Terrace City Council. McCallum-Miller resigned on Feb. 22, 2021, saying she felt unsupported and unheard by council. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Terrace’s 1st Indigenous councillor resigns citing ‘systemic and internalized racism,’ sexism

McCallum-Miller said in a Facebook post she felt unheard and unsupported by council

Temporary changes to allow for wholesale pricing for the hospitality industry were implemented June 2020 and set to expire March 31.	(Pixabay photo)
Pubs, restaurants to pay wholesale prices on liquor permanently in COVID-recovery

Pre-pandemic, restaurateurs and tourism operators paid full retail price on most liquor purchases

Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested in New Hampshire. Image: The Canadian Press
Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell makes third attempt at bail on sex charges

Maxwell claims she will renounce her U.K. and French citizenships if freed

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Feds agree people with mental illness should have access to MAID — in 2 years

This is one of a number of changes to Bill C-7 proposed by the government

. (Photo courtesy of Shane Chartrand)
Grants aim to replenish threatened Indigenous food systems in B.C.

The grants range from $100 to $10,000 and cover activities such as creating food or medicine gardens,

Most Read