Vernon-based Tolko Industries Ltd. announced Friday the permanent closure of its Quest Wood sawmill in Quesnel and a reduction from two shifts to one at its Kelowna sawmill.
President and CEO Brad Thorlakson called the decisions “difficult but necessary.” Quest Wood has been part of Tolko’s operations since 1981, and the Kelowna mill has been in Tolko’s hands since 2004 when the company acquired Riverside Forest Products.
“Unfortunately, we do not have enough economic fibre to keep all of our British Columbia mills running efficiently and productively,” said Thorlakson. “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.”
The Quest Wood closure process will begin on Friday, Aug. 2. Approximately 150 employees are impacted.
The reduction in shifting at the Kelowna mill is effective on July 12. Approximately 90 employees are impacted by the shifting reduction.
These two decisions will remove 250 million board feet from Tolko’s production in B.C.
Tolko’s human resources team will be providing support to employees at both mills throughout the transition.
“This is a business decision and does not reflect on the commitment or work of our employees at these two operations,” said Thorlakson. “They have made significant contributions to Tolko over many years, and we are grateful for their efforts.
“We will be working with a number of agencies to help people transition to new employment, and we will do everything we can to provide opportunities at other Tolko divisions to minimize the impact on employees and their families.
Thorlakson said all remaining Tolko divisions would continue operating on regular schedules.
“These decisions have been made after a long and detailed analysis and are necessary for the long-term prosperity of Tolko and are consistent with our commitment to sustainability,” he said.