Williams Lake Mayor Kerry Cook

Williams Lake Mayor Kerry Cook

West Fraser to build new planer facility in Williams Lake

West Fraser announces plans to build a new planer facility in Williams Lake.

Monica Lamb-Yorski

Tribune Staff Writer

West Fraser will construct a new planer at its Williams Lake Sawmill, general manager Matt Ketcham announced Friday afternoon.

“I am honoured to share some good news, not only for the company, but for the town of Williams Lake,” Ketcham said.

Outlining the company’s history, which was started in 1955 by three Ketcham brothers with a one-line planer in Quesnel, Ketcham said it’s been the company’s culture to reinvest in its employees and its facilities to maintain a strong global position.

The company will rebuild the planer complex and modernize its equipment.

“I believe this will contribute to the long-term success of not only the mill, but for our people. This division has been part of the company since 1957 and the sawmill was rebuilt in 1989,” Ketcham said, adding the new complex will be built close to the existing one.

Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett congratulated West Fraser, saying it was a great day.

“It proves that the forest industry is alive and well in British Columbia and in particular, pine beetle country, where we hear so much negative about the future. We’ve said all along we will have a forest industry. It will change; it will not be the same.”

The announcement signals confidence in the future for present employees and those in the future, Barnett added.

“This gives stability and certainty to the workers and the community.”

Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Steve Thomson, praised West Fraser, describing it as a “great company and a strategic investor.”

Echoing Barnett, Thomson said there has been lots of skepticism about the future of forestry in the province, however West Fraser’s announcement indicates its confidence the industry is here to stay and will have a long healthy viable future in the Cariboo.

“This is a reflection on what we’ve been able to achieve as a province over the last number of years, to be able to put a stable investment climate in place to be able to support those industries that are working to compete globally.”

The forest industry has come through a very difficult downturn and very tough circumstances over the last couple of years, but companies are being innovative and continue to invest in the industry, and work through the downturn to look to the future, Thomson added.

Mayor Kerry Cook said she recently welcomed Ketcham to the community, saying it’s important to have “younger” people with a family background and rich heritage in Williams Lake return to the community.

“Foresty is such an important fabric in our community and it’s so exciting to see West Fraser invest in such a large way,” she said.

Ketcham explained that plans for the capital plan are still in process, so he could not name an exact dollar amount that will be expended. The hope is to begin construction in the new year. The current planer will remain in operation while the new one is being built.

Once the new one is open, the old site will be used to expand shop and storage facilities, and for lunch rooms.

The new planer will not create an extra shift, and Ketcham does not anticipate any job losses. Presently there are around 180 hourly workers employed at the planer mill.

Ketcham also took the opportunity to congratulate planerman  Bill Belziuk who has worked at the sawmill 40 years.

“He is our best planerman,” Ketcham said.

Belziuk has actually worked in the industry 42 years, beginning his career in Dawson Creek.

“I started working with Peter Ketcham and then Hank Ketcham, Matt’s dad. Something that makes it all worthwhile is the camaraderie we have here,” Belziuk said.


Just Posted

The Williams Lake Stampede Association will crown a new queen, and potentially a princess, during the Williams Lake Stampede Royalty coronation on Saturday, June 26. Vying for the title are Miss Williams Lake Lions Kennady Dyck (from left), Miss Peterson Contracting Ltd. Karena Sokolan and Miss MH King Excavating Bayley Cail. (Photos submitted)
New Williams Lake Stampede Queen to be crowned June 26

“It was jump in right away all the way,” Wessels said of getting the program up and running

As the province moves to lift some COVID-19 restrictions, the city of Williams Lake will be opening up its city council meetings to the public, beginning June 22. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Public attendance on the agenda once again for Williams Lake city council meetings

Residents will be permitted to attend meetings in person beginning June 22

The Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society invites residents in 100 Mile House, Williams Lake and Quesnel to participate in “Free Your Things” taking place over the Father’s Day weekend. (Mary Forbes photo)
Cariboo Conservation Society co-ordinating “Free Your Things” Father’s Day weekend

Residents can sign up if they have items they want to give away

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Second dose vaccinations accelerating throughout region: Interior Health

To date, more than 675,000 doses have been administered throughout the region

Thompson Rivers University Williams Lake Campus. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake high school teacher valedictorian for TRU virtual graduation ceremonies

Jonathan Harding is graduating with a master of education degree

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

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

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
BC Green leader Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

B.C. Premier John Horgan leaves his office for a news conference in the legislature rose garden, June 3, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. premier roasted for office budget, taxing COVID-19 benefits

Youth addiction law that triggered election hasn’t appeared

Most Read