Only weeks after telling Black Press that the company hoped previous curtailments would be enough, West Fraser Timber announced more curtailments.
The widespread company centred on Quesnel for this round of cutbacks in production.
West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. (West Fraser) announced Tuesday, Feb. 7 the planned curtailment of operations at Cariboo Pulp & Paper located in Quesnel, British Columbia, beginning in mid-April for a month and then for another month in the third quarter,” said a company news release.
“Today’s decision is the result of the decline in availability of sawmill residuals. The fibre supply challenge in British Columbia is well documented. Infestation, fire, and government policy decisions have all impacted the amount of available fibre in the province.”
Cariboo Pulp & Paper is jointly owned by West Fraser and Mercer International. It was shut down for 16 days in 2021, as well, due to fibre shortage.
While other forestry companies in the region have made curtailment announcements in recent weeks, and even some outright closures, this West Fraser action came with some lead-time.
“Downtime at Cariboo Pulp & Paper will help better align our production capacity this year with the available fibre supply. These plans may be adjusted should fibre forecasts change,” the company said. “Cariboo Pulp & Paper expects to mitigate some of the impact on its affected employees through vacation scheduling and alternative work assignments.”
West Fraser Timber has eight operations in Quesnel, the town in which was founded. They also have operations in Chetwynd, Smithers, Fraser Lake, 100 Mile House, two in Williams Lake, four locations in the Lower Mainland, more in Alberta, four in eastern Canada, and an extensive network in the States. The company even has six operations in Europe.
West Fraser’s senior vice-president of government and corporate relations, James Gorman, told Black Press in January that “the resulting imbalance (in fibre supply and government policy pertaining to forestry) has forced companies like ours to make difficult decisions to align our manufacturing capacity with reduced timber supply across our operating regions. Last summer we announced the permanent curtailment of one shift at each of our Fraser Lake and Williams Lake sawmills and at our Quesnel Plywood mill, impacting approximately 140 employees. Those changes achieved that alignment.
“That said, the ground beneath our feet continues to shift,” Gorman cautioned. “Government initiatives along with naturally occurring phenomena like wildfire, all have the potential to further impact fiber supply. It has never been more important for industry, governments, and First Nations to work together to support forest dependent communities and advance reconciliation objectives. Together, we can do better.”
West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. is a publicly traded company. Its stocks are transacted on the Toronto and New York Stock Exchanges under the trading abbreviation WFG.