The head of a sawmilling company in Port Alberni says he was shocked to hear Western Forest Products may be curtailing operations at its Chemainus sawmill.
Kamal Sanghera, president and chief executive officer of San Group, says harvest slowdowns are not necessarily a surprise and there are plenty of raw logs available. He also says the San Group’s sawmills in Port Alberni are increasingly busy these days and that their value-added mills plan to hire up to 50 people in the next six weeks, adding to their nearly 500 person workforce.
“We’re adding a second shift in the B mill and we got crew under training for a month already so we will be going to full production next week type of thing,” said Sanghera.
But while increasing production the company’s head says it’s hard to understand why Western Forest Products announced yesterday it may be curtailing its Chemainus Mill due to a lack of logs.
“It’s very difficult to understand because of the size of their company. I really don’t know but the thing is why are so many logs leaving British Columbia? They should be available for Western to cut. I’m sorry for them because they don’t have any fibre out there but there are a lot of vessels leaving,” said Sanghera.
On Monday, a bulk carrier fully loaded with raw logs left Nanaimo bound for Asia — all raw logs are available to B.C. companies to buy prior to them being exported abroad.
In response to questions from CHEK News Western Forest Products said in a statement that the Chemainus sawmill processes mainly Western Red Cedar logs.
“Our Chemainus sawmill processes mainly Western Red Cedar logs which cannot be exported. Across the coast, harvest was 19 per cent lower last year than typical. The types and amount of logs used by other operators on the coast are not comparable to the scale and scope of Western’s operations,” a company spokesperson said in a statement.
Sanghera still questions what Western Forest Products is saying. He says the system is failing when so many raw logs are being exported and the government should be ensuring the value-added jobs stay in B.C. and no mills should be closing.
“I like to see the other guys, like us, utilize our natural resources locally. There’s a lot of wood available. I don’t have any TFL. I’m buying all my logs on the open market,” said Sanghera.