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Provincewide mill reduction credited to lack of rail transportation

Quesnel mayor Bob Simpson called on provincial government to expedite rail repairs
Rail shipment of lumber from B.C.’s Interior. (Black Press Media files)

The mayor of Quesnel believes West Fraser is doing the best it can amid transportation challenges.

Nearly four months after a series of atmospheric rivers hit southern B.C. resulting in catastrophic flooding, the forestry company recently confirmed it is temporarily moving from a five to three-day operating schedule at its lumber mills across the province to manage inventories.

”I think the message that we’re trying to get to the provincial government is between the rail lines and the trucker shortage is becoming situation critical, and we need some kind of provincial intervention to get products moving again, particularly from our forest industry,” mayor Bob Simpson said.

Read More: West Fraser temporarily adopts three day work week at B.C. lumber mills

In a written statement, the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development said it is monitoring the situation but is hopeful it can be resolved as soon as possible for the workers and their families.

“Additional supports may be provided if the work week reduction is extended or if further employment changes occur at the impacted mills,” a spokesperson noted.

Around 740 employees, 150 from Quesnel, will see their work schedule temporarily rolled back.

Simpson does also not foresee the temporary measure becoming permanent and ultimately believes there will be some resolution.

“I think it’s driving everybody crazy that you can’t deliver product to a strong high priced market so this is strictly, as we’ve been informed, a transportation matter and the logistics surrounding moving goods into the U.S. market as a result of the catastrophic event that happened in the fall,” he said.

“But really we need a response from CN, in particular, that’s more deliberate and more focused on getting back up and running, and moving goods.”

Read More: B.C. BUDGET: Province braces for shrinking forest industry, new lands ministry

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