Closed Canfor mill at Vavenby sold to B.C. entrepreneur

From forestry to tech and trades

A year after it closed down, the Vavenby sawmill site has been sold.

Black Press Media has learned that Canfor has sold 75 per cent of the land to Brian Fehr, founder and former chairman of The BID Group, a multinational corporation, and current chairman of the board for SmartLam North America, which produces mass timber products.

The other 25 per cent is said to have been purchased by Simpcw First Nation.

“It’s good,” said Clearwater Mayor Merlin Blackwell. “Having seen Brian Fehr’s previous projects elsewhere, he does something with every one of these mill properties that he buys and these multi-company, multi-use industrial parks are exactly what we want to do.”

He added that having many, smaller businesses operating in the area helps to not only diversify the economy, but spreads out the workforce so it’s not all one big volatile industry.

Fehr has purchased the sites of numerous mills that have shut down, including Galloway Lumber in Cranbrook and a Canfor mill in Canal Flats. The latter is renowned as a “brave experiment.”

He purchased the Canfor properties in Canal Flats just a few years ago and transformed them into the Columbia Lake Technology Centre (CLTC), a “high-tech data hub,” which launched in 2018, shifting a town once reliant on forestry to one based in tech and trades.

READ MORE: Court approves sale of C&C Wood Products and Westside Logging in Quesnel

The CLTC is a hub that houses “value-added” businesses, striving to support a diverse economy by bringing together a variety of manufacturing and technology-related companies, according to their website.

“I think we will be very happy with the sale if we can get something going on it,” said Carol Schaffer, TNRD director for Area A. “I think he’s (Fehr) very positive, so, that’s good for us.”

Crews are currently working to gut the mill in Vavenby, and it may be up to a year before it is known what will replace it. Besides the Vavenby mill, Canfor owns numerous other industrial sites throughout Clearwater, including space out by the eco depot and the Strawberry Flats. It is not known at this time what the company plans to do with those properties.

“There’s huge amounts of property here that has sat dormant,” said Blackwell. “It’s pretty much all our industrial land, so having this go forward at least gives us some hopes in rebuilding industrial life out here.”


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
editor@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

forestry

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Prince George RCMP is asking for the public’s help to find 29-year-old Colin Michaud Durrand. He has a history of violence and is considered to pose an increased risk to public safety, according to police, who advise the public not to confront Durrand if he is located. (Photo Submitted by RCMP)
Prince George RCMP ask for help locating violent ‘priority offender’ with ties to Quesnel

RCMP says Colin Michaud Durrand, 29, recently lived in Quesnel but may frequent Hixon, Prince George

The outhouse at the Milburn Lake Public Access after the Oct. 17 work bee. Pictured here, from left, are Bouchie Lake Watershed Stewardship Society volunteers Doug Nielsen, Dan Aussant, Richard Armstrong and Bob Ross. (Photo Submitted)
Volunteers fix foundation of Milburn Lake Public Access outhouse

The Bouchie Lake Watershed Stewardship Society recently held a work bee at the site

An air cadet and RCMP officer stand guard over Quesnel’s Cenotaph during the 2019 Remembrance Day ceremonies. The COVID-19 pandemic has cancelled all public memorial ceremonies set for Nov. 11. (File Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Quesnel Remembrance Day ceremonies on hold for 2020

There will be no public event, but residents are encouraged to observe two minutes of silence

Cariboo Regional District Area A Director Mary Sjostrom, School District 28 board chair Dave Chapman and Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson plant ceremonial shovels into the ground at what will become Quesnel’s newest school during a ceremony Tuesday, Oct. 20. (Cassidy Dankochik Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Construction begins on new Quesnel Junior School

A groundbreaking ceremony was held to kick off the two-year project

B.C. Conservative Leader Trevor Bolin and Cariboo North candidate Kyle Townsend were practising proper physical distancing during a campaign stop in Quesnel on Saturday, Oct. 17. (Cassidy Dankochik Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Bolin first party leader to visit Quesnel

The B.C. Conservative Pary’s leader made the stop to support Kyle Townsend

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry presents modelling of COVID-19 spread in B.C., March 25, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 203 new cases

up to 1,766 active cases in B.C., two more deaths

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
British Columbia man dies during ski trip near glacier west of Calgary

Kananaskis Public Safety and Alpine Helicopters responded around 2:30 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, following a week-long break for the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
One crisis after another for Trudeau since last federal election one year ago

It has been a year of unprecedented calamity and crisis

Rio Tinto Alcan’s aluminum smelter at Kitimat competes against producers in the Middle East and Russia that have no carbon tax. (Rio Tinto)
B.C. carbon tax highest in Canada, export industries unprotected

B.C. NDP, B.C. Liberals say they’re looking at exemptions

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

(Pixabay)
Vancouver teacher suspended after swearing, touching students and complimenting underwear

McCabe touched students, including rubbing their backs and necks, touching their hair and hugging them

A glimpse of some of the 480 (approx) cars written off as a result of the acid spills along the Trail highway in 2018. Photo: Trail Times
2 years after huge highway acid spill, Kootenay Ford dealer’s frustration grows with ICBC

Trail AM Ford owner Dan Ashman says he just wants fair compensation from ICBC

Mail-in ballot from Elections BC (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
At least 26% of eligible voters have already cast their ballot, Elections BC says

Voters can cast a ballot until 8 p.m PST on Election Day

Most Read