Massive, sudden shutdown of Island forestry impacts thousands 

Watch Vancouver Island's forest industry is effectively shutting down for business, as a massive stoppage in harvesting combined with the WFP strike, hits thousands of households just before Christmas. As Skye Ryan reports, 2,000 contractors for Mosaic Forest Management were told they would be out of work beginning Monday.

Logging truck driver Bryan Wheeler finished out his last shift Friday still stunned by the massive and sudden shutdown in Vancouver Island forests.

“Yeah I heard yesterday at like noon that today is our last day,” said Bryan Wheeler.

“So it’s kind of out of the blue,” he said.

“What are you going to do?” CHEK News asked him.

“I’m still up in the air, I just got told about it yesterday afternoon so I don’t know. Get my days work in and go get a resume going I don’t know,” said Wheeler.

The 23-year-old is one of 2,000 contractors affected by a massive and sudden forest harvesting curtailment by Mosaic Forest Management across Vancouver Island.

Juergen Arndt has been in forestry for 36 years and says he’s never experienced anything like this.

“Never had a shut down like this,” said Arndt.

“Such short notice,” he said.

Mosaic, which manages both Timberwest and Island Timberlands, announced it will curtail all harvesting operations, effective Nov. 25, due to poor market conditions. That gave just 3 days’ notice to loggers from Port Hardy to Sooke.

This shutdown combined with the nearly 5-month long Western Forest Products strike thrusts 5,000 people out of work in BC’s forest industry, and thousands more will be impacted indirectly.

“If you add Timberwest, Island Timberlands, Western there’s going to be tens of thousands of people affected by this,” said Wheeler.

Mosaic wouldn’t comment on how long the curtailment may last, but the Truck Loggers Association says they’ve been told it will be January before the situation is even reassessed.

“Well it’s devastating,” said President of the Truck Loggers Association, David Elstone.

“What’s happening right now in the BC Coast actually throughout the province is incredible. We are probably in the worst situation we’ve ever been in definitely on the BC Coast,” he said.

All this, just a month before Christmas.

“I think Christmas is not coming to Vancouver Island,” said Elstone.

As the forestry industry struggles with poor market conditions and stalled talks in a wide-reaching strike, this could very well be a Christmas full of hardship on our coast.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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