WATCH: We’re learning more tonight about the decision behind a family- owned forestry company making a major investment in Port Alberni. The San Group is going to build the first new sawmill on Vancouver Island in more than a decade. The project will cost up to $80 million to complete and will bring dozens of new jobs to the Alberni Valley. Kendall Hanson reports.
A mostly vacant lot beside Port Alberni’s Catalyst Paper Mill will soon be home to a cutting-edge sawmill.
The San Group recently purchased the 10-hectare [25-acre] parcel. The company plans to spend $80 million to build a new mill here. The first to be built on Vancouver Island in over 15 years.
“It’s been a long time,” said Bruce Molander, San Group’s General Manager of its Port Alberni operations. “I can’t recall the last time one was made here on Vancouver Island, so we’re very excited about it. Not only for the application of the resource but also for the local economy as well.”
Since buying this former Coulson mill in May of 2017, the San Group has been steadily growing its operations in Port Alberni.
They are adding a third shift resulting in 30 new jobs and the new mill will create another 135 direct jobs.
Port Alberni’s economic development manager said it’s great news for the city.
“We haven’t had an investment of this size in any of our industrial or commercial operations for many years,” said Pat Deakin.
The new mill will use small diameter douglas fir and hemlock logs.
The company said it’s a new way to use logs that normally may have just been chipped in the past.
“This new plant will process all underutilized fibre that in the past we left behind or chipped,” said Kamal Sanghera, San Group’s CEO. “So we’ll utilize the fibre more intelligently.”
The San Group said it’s growing because it’s a lean, efficient operation.
“That’s why we are growing,” said Sanghera. “We go to the market and we find out what they want and then we produce what the market wants.”
Construction on the new sawmill will begin in the spring.