B.C. towns fight for survival amid mill closures

VANCOUVER — Canfor’s announcement that it will cut production at two Prince George sawmills this summer is the latest of more than 20 such cutbacks, CBC News reports. Hundreds of employees are out of work thanks to challenges to the forestry sector, including 150 at Quesnel’s Tolko Industries mill, which will close in August, and 172 at the Canfor mill in Vavenby, which is due to close this month. “It’s definitely going to be a struggle because there’s not a great deal of jobs that have around the same pay or benefits,” Tolko employee Jennifer Johnson told the CBC.

Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson says the city saw the closure coming after the annual timber allotment was cut two years ago. “We’ve been here before and we have a transition team in place based on the lessons learned from that,” he said, adding that city council in its last term froze taxes on the industry in an effort to reduce the city’s dependence on it. Quesnel is promoting growth in its tourism and agriculture sectors in order to diversify the local economy.