By Daily Courier Staff
Tolko is shutting down its Kelowna mill indefinitely.
The company made the announcement Thursday afternoon after informing its employees.
“This decision was not easy for us to make,” said Vice President of Solid Wood Troy Connolly in a company release. “We are very disappointed to be in a position where we have to curtail the mill, particularly given the reasons for this extension are beyond our control. However, with lumber market prices at sustained low levels and high log costs in B.C., the mill cannot be cost-competitive.
The 140 workers at Tolko Kelowna were in the midst of a six-week closure, which was just coming to an end.
Tolko Kelowna's second shift of 90 workers was permanently axed on July 12.
“On days like these, our hearts are heavy as we think of our colleagues and friends at Kelowna,” Connolly added. "We know our people in Kelowna have done everything in their power to make the mill successful. They have gone above and beyond. Sadly, this has nothing to do with them or their efforts. We simply cannot operate in current conditions.”
Tolko, along with other B.C. lumber companies, has had many shutdowns and closures this year.
When the second Kelowna shift was eliminated, Tolko also closed its Quesnel mill.
Canfor, Conifex, Louisiana-Pacific, Norbord and Aspen Planers are among the other forestry companies closing mills, making shift reductions or laying off workers.
To local BC Liberal MLAs, all the industry's troubles are a sign the NDP government isn't doing enough to help the forest industry.
“The BC Liberals have repeatedly warned the NDP, and have offered tangible ideas to help address the crisis, but there’s still been zero action from John Horgan or his incompetent forests minister,” said Kelowna-Mission MLA Steve Thomson in a news release.
“We need John Horgan and his government to take meaningful action—any action—to help our forestry communities get through this difficult time,” said Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick.
In the past week alone, total job losses in the forestry sector include at least 300 logging contractors and over 600 people employed at mills in Kelowna and at the coast, the Liberals say.