Tolko permanently shutting down Quesnel sawmill

More than 200 sawmill workers to lose jobs in Quesnel, Kelowna

Mountain pine beetle and forest fires have dramatically reduced B.c.'s long-term timber supply.

More than 200 sawmill workers will lose their jobs when Tolko Industries permanently shuts down its Quest Wood sawmill in Quesnel, and eliminates one shift at its Kelowna sawmill.

Tolko announced May 10 that it will shut down its Quest Wood sawmill on August 2, resulting in 150 job losses. Another 90 workers will lose their jobs in Kelowna when the Tolko mill there goes down from two shifts to one on July 12. The closure and curtailment will take an estimated 250 million board feet per year out of production.

While falling lumber prices in the U.S. and high log costs in B.C. have been blamed for recent production curtailments at a number of sawmills in B.C., a long-term decline in the annual allowable cut (AAC) is expected to result in six to eight sawmill closures in B.C. The Quest Wood sawmill appears to be the first of what could be a series of permanent mill closures in B.C. in the coming months and years.

“Unfortunately, we do not have enough economic fibre to keep all of our British Columbia mills running efficiently and productively," Tolko CEO Brad Thorlakson said in a press release.

"We knew that AAC reductions were coming in British Columbia due to the devastation caused by the Mountain Pine Beetle epidemic. The curtailments announced today are sooner than anticipated due to uneconomic log costs, weak lumber markets, and the catastrophic impacts of wildfires.”