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Canfor closing its Houston mill in April amid weak market; new facility under consideration

Closure being called ‘temporary’ pending decision by Canfor board
Canfor is closing its Houston sawmill in April, calling the move temporary pending a decision to build a new one. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Canfor is closing its Houston mill in early spring, citing weak markets making its continued operation uneconomical.

A statement released by the company this afternoon is calling the closure temporary, saying there is a plan to rebuild the facility with newer equipment but that it hinges on approval by Canfor’s board of directors.

“It’s expected that it will take about two years to construct the facility, if approved by the board of directors,” the statement indicated.

The company expects to have a rebuilding plan ready for consideration by the end of the second quarter of this year.

“Project planning, scoping, preliminary engineering and budgeting are underway,” the company said.

Employees were gathered at the mill today to hear the news.

The closure not only affects the several hundred workers at the mill but loggers and contractors and others who supply the mill with logs and service its operations.

“Our intention is to build a new, modern facility here that can compete with plants around the world. That is what will ultimately create greater stability for employees, our contractors and the community,” the company statement added.

The closure is expected to take place around April once the mill’s existing inventory of logs has been processed and a systematic shutdown of equipment can take place.

The mill is the economic mainstay of Houston, a community that has already felt the effects of a downturn in the lumber industry when another major mill closed there in 2014.

A transition committee is being formed to guide employees through employment insurance claims, new job opportunities and other government programs.

Also closing, and for good, is Canfor’s sawmill and pellet plant in Chetwynd. The last days there are also expected in April.

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