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Category Archives: Business & Politics

Business & Politics

One year after the trade wars began, Canada’s economy has been altered

By Kevin Carmichael
National Post
July 22, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, United States

…Since at least the 1960s, economic growth had followed a fairly consistent pattern: exports pick up, business investment follows as companies scramble to keep pace with demand, and the country prospers. After the crisis, something odd happened: investment spiked as commodity prices soared, but non-energy export growth was muted. Investment reversed course when oil prices plunged, and then Trump began sowing seeds of doubt: new tariffs on Canadian lumber imports; the assault on Bombardier Inc…; the overhaul of the North American Free Trade Agreement…his apparent willingness to blow up global supply chains by picking a commercial and strategic fight with China. … In effect, Trump sabotaged the creative disruption that typically helps an economy regenerate after a downturn. …“The duty has a direct impact on our Canadian production,” Gerrie Kotze, chief financial officer at Teal-Jones Group, British Columbia’s biggest privately owned timber company, told the Financial Post in an interview recently.

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Forestry families fear the future

By Mike Bernier MLA
The Dawson Creek Mirror
July 18, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada

Mike Bernier

For the past few weeks I’ve been travelling around the Peace talking to forest families and folks from forest communities about how things are going. What I’ve heard is concerning. Families—those with someone working in the forest sector, and those with someone working in the businesses and services supporting the sector—are worried about their futures. They have already seen temporary shutdowns triggered by a wide variety of factors. Now they are troubled, wondering if what is a temporary shut down today could turn into permanent closures without a concentrated effort to bolster the sector. …More needs to be done to help our local forest sector remain strong. It’s essential for families. And it is critical for our communities. 

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Rising softwood lumber production for U.S. sawmills, while Canadian output drops sharply

Global Wood Markets Info
July 18, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, United States

Softwood lumber production by U.S. sawmills in the first four months of 2019 was 11.718 billion board ft. (bbf), an increase of 0.9% from 11.616 bbf a year earlier, while Canadian sawmills produced 8.588 bbf of softwood lumber in the first four months, down 8.8% from 9.421 bbf a year earlier. Western U.S. sawmills accounted for 4.797 bbf of the four-month total, down 1.8% from 4.883 bbf a year earlier, while production at southern U.S. sawmills increased, by 3.0% to 6.370 bbf from 6.186 bbf last year. …Canadian sawmills produced 8.588 bbf of softwood lumber in the first four months, down 8.8% from 9.421 bbf a year earlier. Much of the decline was in British Columbia, where output plunged 16.2% to 3.587 bbf from 4.279 at the same time last year. Production by sawmills East of the Rockies also fell, by 2.7% to 5.001 bbf from 5.142 bbf.

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Home Builders Get a Reality Check

By Gunjan Banerji
The Wall Street Journal
July 17, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, United States

Shares of home builders have been on a tear this year. But fresh housing data could hold them back. Home building in the U.S. declined in June, potentially putting a halt to an epic rally. …Big, publicly traded home builders… have soared this year, outpacing the S&P 500’s roughly 19% gain. …But several home builders inched lower on Wednesday after fresh data from the Commerce Department showed that housing starts fell 0.9% in June from the prior month. Meanwhile, residential building permits recorded the biggest monthly drop since March 2016. …Lower borrowing costs could help the housing market; rates for 30-year fixed mortgages recently fell below 4%. …But a continuation of sagging housing data could put an end to the rally, potentially weighing on other sectors. …These types of companies, which include Canfor, Interfor andWest Fraser, have fallen at least 15% each this year. [a WSJ subscription is required to access the full story]

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Lumber Declines Despite A Dovish Fed

By Andrew Hecht
Seeking Alpha
July 17, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, United States

…The lumber futures market has done an excellent job of predicting price action in the commodities market. …The price of lumber traded to its high in May 2018, before many other raw material prices fell on the back of the ongoing trade dispute with China. Therefore, the lumber has been a leading indicator, at times. …The weekly chart highlights that lumber futures have been steadily declining since mid-June, even as other commodities have displayed price strength. The news that the Fed plans to cut the Fed Funds rate by the end of 2019 has not supported the price of lumber, which is a critical component when it comes to construction. While a falling interest rate environment should favor the price of wood, the price has declined in what has been a “buy the rumor and sell the fact” reaction to the prospects for lower US interest rates.

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Muted demand keeps softwood lumber prices low as futures tank

By Madison’s Lumber Reporter
Wood Business – Canadian Forest Industries
July 16, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, United States

Until Tuesday all eyes were on trading of softwood lumber futures on the Chicago Merchantile Exchange. The July contract closed Monday unchanged at $360. By Tuesday morning the September contract was down $12 and trading at $336, with little optimism of the recent price drops reversing direction. For it’s part, cash price for benchmark construction framing dimension softwood lumber commodity Western Spruce-Pine-Fir 2×4 was down $10 on the previous week, at U.S. $392 mfbm. At producers, sawmill order files were barely longer than a week, although most manufacturers were quoting a two-week order file. …Among players in the west there were rumours circulating of still more curtailments and down-time. …The U.S. housing market looks tepid at best, but not because people are not looking to buy property.

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US Lumber Cos. Fight Duty Relief For Canadian Producers

By Craig Clough
Law 360
July 15, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, United States

A US Court of International Trade judge temporarily blocked the US Dept of Commerce from revoking a countervailing duty on five Canadian lumber companies, in response to a suit by a group of American lumber companies that say the department unfairly let those companies off the hook. Judge Thomas J. Aquilino Jr. issued a restraining order shortly after American companies… filed a complaint. The companies say the Commerce Department exceeded its authority when it carried out an expedited review and lifted countervailing duties on…  Canada’s Les Produits Forestiers D&G Ltee, Marcel Lauzon Inc., North American Forest Products Ltd. and others. …“Section 103 does not provide the discretion for an agency to directly undertake perceived international treaty obligations, such as the WTO’s Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures, without prior authorization from Congress,” the American companies said in the complaint. “As such, Commerce’s findings in the final results are in excess of its statutory authority.” [to access the full story requires a Law 360 subscription]

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CN announces David Trent as Vice-President and Chief Digital Officer

By CN
Global Newswire
July 15, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, United States

David Trent

MONTREAL — CN is pleased to announce that David Trent, a global IT leader with over 20 years of experience, will be joining the company as part of the railway’s objective of modernizing its scheduled railroading model. In his most recent role, David was appointed Vice-President, Technology and Digital at Canfor Corporation. …In his role, David will assume the overall responsibility to build a digitally agile organization and provide the best digital thinking and solutions to the business and CN’s customers. …Based in Montreal, David will report to Michael Foster, executive vice-president.

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‘The whole industry is shrinking’: Forestry contracters losing work amid mill closures

By Dominika Lirette
CBC News
July 23, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

David Elstone

The economic downturn in the forest industry is being felt, not only by the hundreds of mill workers who have been laid off or had a reduction in shifts, but also by forestry contractors, such as log truck drivers and independent timber harvesters, that rely on the mills to make money. David Elston, executive director of  which represents forestry contractors across the province, predicts the industry will take a 25 per cent hit in the upcoming months which could lead to bankruptcies and more layoffs. “The challenge is that there’s the entire supply chain that feeds that sawmill and that’s largely my membership, the logging contractor and their suppliers, that are working to maintain that supply chain when the sawmill does not need logs,” said Elston. “There is no revenue for those businesses, because that’s what their job is — to deliver logs.”

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Can’t see the forest for the trees

Adam Olsen, BC Green Party MLA for Saanich North and the Islands
Victoria News
July 22, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Adam Olsen

…BC NDP provincial government [recently announced] that they are going to protect 54 individual old-growth trees plus the hectare immediately in their vicinity, or their “friends.” I won’t complain about the 54 trees they are protecting. It’s a big victory that the province is not allowing the entire forest to be logged right up to the ancient creature’s stem…” However, it’s disturbing that there is so little willingness to step up and do what actually needs to be done. Chiefly, we need to protect the integrity and function of ecosystems, not trees. As we heard consistently throughout the Spring legislative session, the Minister of Forests, and his government, see only the value of the fibre. The value of a standing old-growth forest seems to be only in its economic potential for it to become a clearcut. That’s it. …Unfortunately, forestry “management plans” are actually a euphemism for tree cutting plans.

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Both parties have failed forest communities

Editorial by Abe Bourdon
Prince George Citizen
July 19, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Appurtenancy, under the NDP government in the 1990s, meant that wood for mills was tied to the local communities from which that wood was harvested. This quickly disappeared under the timber tenure reform policies brought in by the B.C. Liberals under Gordon Campbell. His tenure reform “would entail a policy of individual transferrable quotas.” It would also allow the tenure holders to close the community-adjacent mills and sell the raw logs to another mill or to ship raw logs out of the province or to sell their licenced tenure to a buyer who could legally do the same. …We are sorely in need of a government that is committed to the citizens and their communities instead of remaining toadies to the multinationals that own our forests. They could start by re-instating the appurtenancy clauses in forest licences.

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NDP pushes ahead with Crown forest redistribution

By Tom Fletcher
BC Local News
July 21, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

B.C.’s forest industry is having another bad week, after Canfor Corp. announced the immediate closure of its Mackenzie sawmill north of Prince George, and the permanent reduction from two shifts to one at its Isle Pierre mill. …This is the backdrop for Forest Minister Doug Donaldson’s latest initiative, the launch of an “Interior forest sector renewal” project. …As with the series of industry-led meetings urged by Premier John Horgan in January, the key purpose here is to further redistribute Crown forest cutting rights. Horgan and Donaldson are locked into the NDP political frame that big forest companies are the problem, and that nothing has been done about their grip on the people’s resource. …I suspect these private meetings boil down to a series of ultimatums to big forest licence holders. The B.C. NDP wants to be seen as implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and this is how they aim to do it.

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War of words accompanies launch of public consultation on forest sector

By Mark Nielsen
The Prince George Citizen
July 19, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

John Rustad

Complete with a series of community meetings, the provincial government has launched a public consultation process on the future of the Interior forest sector. …Forests Minister Doug Donaldson was quick to accuse the previous Liberal government of failing to prepare for the inevitable, namely a wave of sawmill closures as a result of the decline in available timber.  “The previous government failed to help the forest sector when it had a chance, eroding the public’s trust in B.C.’s forest sector operations and diminishing its competitive advantage,” he said in a press release issued Thursday. Opposition critic John Rustad, in turn, accused the governing NDP of inaction in its own right, noting how long it will take for the process to conclude. In a press release, the Liberals dismissed the exercise as a “useless survey.”

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First of Interior Forest Sector Renewal meetings kicks off in Williams Lake

By Monica Lamb-Yorski
Williams Lake Tribune
July 19, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

A meeting focused on the forest industry held in Williams Lake Thursday was the first of several scheduled for the region. Mike Pedersen, who is the engagement lead for the Interior Forest Sector Renewal discussion process announced by forests minister Doug Donaldson Thursday, said it’s time communities in the region begin talking about the future of the industry. There will be a meeting in Anahim Lake on July 23, 100 Mile House on July 24, Quesnel on July 30 and again in Williams Lake on Aug. 14. “We’ve been sitting down the last five years pretty regularly with local governments, Indigenous governments, and industry to talk about this in earnest,” Pedersen said. …During the meeting in Williams Lake, participants broke out into small group discussions around forest tenure and fibre supply, manufacturing capacity and fibre utilization, climate change and forest carbon, wood products innovation, reconciliation with Indigenous communities and fibre and sustainability of timber and non-timber values.

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West Fraser says worst of its B.C. mill cuts done after wave of curtailments

Canadian Press in the Victoria News
July 19, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Mill cutbacks in B.C. are still happening, but West Fraser Timber Co Ltd. said Friday that the worst of the pullback is behind it. The company, like many in B.C.’s lumber industry, has cut back and closed mills in recent months in response to limited log supplies and a plunge in lumber prices from record highs last year. Canfor, for example, announced late Thursday it was indefinitely suspending operations at its Mackenzie sawmill and permanently cutting a shift at its Isle Pierre mill to reduce output. For its part, West Fraser CEO Ray Ferris said the company’s already announced cuts should put it on a more stable footing in the province going forward. “From a strategic standpoint, much of our heavy lifting in British Columbia is now behind us,” Ferris told a conference call Friday to discuss the company’s latest financial results.

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Job losses in B.C. forest industry prompt call for feedback from the Province

By Marcella Bernardo
News 1130
July 18, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

WILLIAMS LAKE — A call has gone out for help stemming job losses in the wake of several B.C. mills closing or temporarily suspending operations. Supply shortages and unstable market conditions have been blamed for falling timber prices. The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development is seeking public input to rebuild the industry in the Interior–the region suffering most from back-to-back wildfire seasons and the mountain pine beetle infestation. …Mayor Bev Playfair says the $39-million sale to Hampton Lumber means operations won’t start up again any time soon. Hampton executives say the long-term outlook is “promising” to build a new mill in the area, even though current economic conditions are “extremely challenging.” Playfair says the crisis declaration won’t be lifted before August 15th. …Public engagement sessions are also being held in various communities starting with Williams Lake on July 18.

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James boasts of $1.5B surplus but downplays tax hikes, forestry issues

By Vaughn Palmer
Vancouver Sun
July 18, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

VICTORIA — Finance Minister Carole James …confirmed the New Democrats had ended the 2018-19 financial year with impressive results: a $1.5 billion operating surplus, the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio in a decade …But I was struck by how little concern James expressed for … the troubled forest sector. The public accounts showed a $300 million plus surge in forest revenues in the year gone by, because markets were good and prices better. But lumber sales — and taxable worker paycheques and  corporate profits — have been on the slide since the beginning of the calendar year, with results that must already be showing up in the revenue returns to the Ministry of Finance. James said the government is alert to the risks in the forest sector. But at another point she also boasted the B.C. economy is “at practically full employment,” which would not be the perception in the more-than-30 forest-dependent communities where mills are on reduced operations or closed altogether.

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B.C. town declares financial crisis after sawmill closes, latest in string of shutdowns and layoffs

Canadian Press in Financial Post
July 18, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

FORT ST. JAMES, B.C. — The small community of Fort St. James, B.C., has declared a state of local financial crisis in the wake of the closure and recent sale of its largest sawmill. Mayor Bev Playfair signed the declaration this week, less than a month after Conifex Timber Inc. announced a $39 million deal to sell its sawmill to Oregon-based Hampton Lumber. The sawmill is a major employer in the north-central B.C. town of about 1,600 and remains closed prompting the declaration which will remain in effect until Aug. 15, unless cancelled by the mayor. …When the Conifex sale was announced in June, company chairman Ken Shields called the decision “difficult,” but said it was almost inevitable because too little saw log supply is available to maintain the existing manufacturing base in the Interior region of B.C. Hampton Lumber CEO Steve Zika pledged to build a new mill in Fort St. James but didn’t offer a timeline…

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B.C. government seeks advice on reviving Interior forest industry

By Tom Fletcher
BC Local News
July 18, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Closed-door meetings with forests ministry staff and community and first nations leaders began Thursday in Williams Lake, as the B.C. government’s ambitious plan to remake the struggling Interior forest industry picks up speed. The B.C. industry has been rocked by sawmill closures as it copes with reduced timber supply after extensive beetle damage and a slump in lumber prices. The NDP government has also moved to regulate Crown forest licence transfers, redistribute logging rights and impose restrictions on log exports. …Now ministry staff are conducting their own private meetings …“Part of this government’s approach is to see more involvement of first nations in forestry,” Donaldson said in an interview with Black Press. “Almost every day when we’re sitting in the legislature I have first nations come into my office to express interest in more volume and getting involved in forestry.” That timber volume largely would have to come from existing forest licences. 

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Canfor Announces Additional Capacity Reductions in BC

By Canfor Corporation
Cision Newswire
July 18, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

VANCOUVER– Today Canfor Corporation announced further capacity reductions at two of its British Columbia sawmills with an indefinite curtailment at its Mackenzie sawmill and the permanent elimination of one shift at its Isle Pierre sawmill. The indefinite curtailment at Mackenzie, which is effective immediately, is due to the high cost of fibre, continued poor lumber markets and challenging operating conditions that have combined to make the mill uneconomic under these conditions. The Isle Pierre sawmill will be permanently reduced from two shifts to one shift effective September 20, 2019. The capacity reduction, which is due to insufficient timber supply as a result of the mountain pine beetle epidemic and associated decline in the annual allowable cut, will enable the mill to better align its production capacity with the sustainable fibre supply in the region. 

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Public feedback invited on new approach to Interior forest sector

By Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development
Government of British Columbia
July 18, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

The provincial government is accepting public input in shaping an Interior forest sector that will innovate, create jobs and support communities for generations to come. “The previous government failed to help the forest sector when it had a chance, eroding the public’s trust in B.C.’s forest sector operations and diminishing its competitive advantage,” said Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests… “We are taking action and making different choices by asking for local input and insight into how we want to shape a prosperous, competitive and culturally sensitive Interior future forest sector.” …The Province is supporting impacted communities and workers through community transition and response teams that liaise with local governments, the federal government, industry, labour, employment support programs and organizations, as well as post-secondary institutions.  …the goal is to sustainably increase added value from B.C. forest products, such as mass timber and advanced bioproducts, while strengthening communities, maximizing employment and advancing reconciliation with First Nations.

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Fort St. James declares financial crisis following sawmill closure

By Estefania Duran
CBC News
July 17, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

A northern B.C. community has declared a state of local financial crisis after the district’s sawmill was sold last month. The declaration for the District of Fort St. James was ordered by the mayor Tuesday night and will remain in force for 30 days unless ordered otherwise.  The sawmill closed after Conifex decided to sell the facility to Hampton Lumber, a decision that Mayor Bev Playfair says left 226 people unemployed. … Playfair says the closure affects more than just the workers, noting there is a “trickle down” effect felt by the rest of the community. She’s hopeful the declaration will result in the creation of job opportunity programs by the federal and provincial governments to prevent workers from leaving. Although a declaration of financial crisis is a first for the district, Playfair says the community is not new to mill closures, with this being the third time the facility has closed. 

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BC Human Rights Tribunal awards damages to former forestry worker

By Marcella Bernardo
News 1130
July 17, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

VANCOUVER – A forestry worker who was denied a job with the B.C. government four years ago has won a discrimination case at the BC Human Rights Tribunal. Bryan Fraser has been awarded $25,000 after he says he was discriminated against because of his political beliefs about logging on Haida Gwaii. In 2015, Fraser received an offer of employment after spending time out of the province. However, the employment offer was rescinded after the Ministry of Forests learned he had previously harvested trees that were considered culturally important. Fraser had worked on Haida Gwaii in the 1990s and 2000s. The Ministry argued Fraser had failed to report he was under investigation by the Forest Practices Board. In awarding compensation, tribunal member Catherine McCreary says Fraser should not be re-instated, but he should be compensated for a loss of dignity by the hiring process.

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More than One Hundred Employees Returning to Work, Western Forest Products says

By Kyle Christensen
My Cowichan Valley Now
July 17, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Amid the labour dispute between Western Forest Products and members of the United Steelworkers Local 1-1937, more than one hundred WFP contractors are heading back to work this week. The Labour Relations Board has decided that the union didn’t collectively bargain legally when it comes to Mount Sicker Timber Company Limited, Island Forest Company Limited, and Big Lake Logging Limited, voiding the strike vote. …Susan Dolinski explains… “the union didn’t appropriately …providing 72-hour strike notice to these contractors and including them in the strike vote in a way that was appropriate”. Dolinski said these workers will be back on the job this week.

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Canfor looking at possible repurposing of Vavenby sawmill site

BC Local News
July 18, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

At a meeting earlier this month there was speculation on the fate Canfor’s Vavenby mill site. …“there isn’t sufficient fiber supply to support a sawmill there, the site will not operate as a sawmill again. However, we do believe there are other potential industrial uses for the site,” said Stephen Mackie, senior vice-president of Canadian operations for Canfor. Taking into account the network of transportation infrastructure at the site, and the access to skilled labor in the area, there is potential for other industries that could create jobs there. …For the time being, Canfor is looking at short-term uses that might create local employment and economic benefits, like using the site for pipeline construction storage, possibly setting up a chipping facility, or using the scales in the log yard to weigh and store logs.

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Sawmill closures hurt B.C. communities

By Nelson Bennett
Business in Vancouver
July 17, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Jim Girvan

The current wave of sawmill closures and curtailments rippling through B.C. had been expected for at least a decade. But few expected that wave to hit so fast and furious. In recent weeks, B.C. forestry companies have announced the closure of four sawmills, and several have eliminated, or plan to eliminate, shifts at mills that are still operating. …Jim Girvan, a forestry consultant who estimated in 2010 that 16 Interior lumber, veneer and plywood mills would shut down in B.C. by 2019 – which is exactly how many did – more recently predicted in May that another 13 mills will have to go. Since his May prediction, four mill closures have been announced, which mean nine will follow before long if his projections are correct. And because B.C.’s forestry sector is so highly integrated, the next wave of plant closures could be pulp mills and other processors that use wood waste from nearby sawmills.

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Liberals MLAs worried over inaction on forestry

By Frank Peebles
The Prince George Citizen
July 16, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

The forest industry is reeling from a flurry of economic blows, some global and some local. The strongest sign of a sector in trouble is the number of mill closures, production curtailments and unscheduled or protracted shutdowns …at a large number of sawmills… The rural caucus of the opposition BC Liberal Party met in Prince George this week to make public their greatest concern: lack of action from the sitting NDP/Green coalition government. The Citizen asked the Ministry of Forests Lands & Resource Operations for details on the government’s plan of action and received no explanation. …”Given the forestry sector in B.C. is now in the middle of what can only be described as a crisis, the Official Opposition is calling on you (the sitting government) to take the following actions to address this situation,” said a letter signed by opposition leader.

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Council Supports Interfor Timber Rights

By the Village of Chase
Chase Sunflower
July 12, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

As was reported in the Sunflower on June 28, representatives of Interfor, Adams Lake Division spoke to Council and those in the gallery at Council’s meeting of June 25, 2019. Interfor has applied to purchase timber rights from Canfor as a result of the closure of Canfor’s Vavenby mill. Some new rules recently implemented by the Province of BC require that transfers of tenure ownership must now be subjected to a ‘public interest test’ as determined by the Forest Minister. The Interfor representatives outlined the benefits of additional log supply for the Adams Lake mill, and all those people and businesses connected to it. Village Council then voted in support of a motion of community support for the transfer of the timber rights. The Adams Lake Lumber mill is within the boundary of the Village of Chase, and consequently pays annual property taxes to the Village. The rate for this tax is set by the Taxation (Rural Tax Area) Act which is an enactment of the Provincial government. In addition to paying annual taxes, the Adams Lake Lumber Mill employs a number of Chase residents who also pay taxes, and support the local economy by patronizing local business. Some employees also have children enrolled in the local schools.

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B.C. Liberals layout plan to support B.C. Forestry

By Adam Reaburn
Energetic City
July 15, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

VICTORIA, B.C. – The B.C. Liberals have outlined what they would do to support B.C. struggling forestry sector. On June 13, the Liberals sent a letter to Premier John Horgan that outlined suggestions from the Liberal Rural Caucus to immediately support communities affected by the recent downturn in the forestry sector. The four immediate actions include a program to match employment opportunities with displaced employees and increasing social services, including mental health for workers in each community. The Liberals also say a forest fire fuel mitigation program could employee workers immediately, and the Provincial Government must ask for Federal programs that support retirement bridging and work-sharing.

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As B.C. forestry strike enters 3rd week, concern grows over effect on community

By Bridgette Watson
CBC News
July 15, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Residents of Port Alberni, B.C., have seen hard times before. The forestry industry has been a significant employer in the Vancouver Island community for decades and the city has experienced a lot of booms and busts over the years. But as forestry workers enter a third week of strike action against Western Forest Products (WFP) and the sawmills sit silent, the town’s mayor is growing increasingly concerned about the impact on the local economy.  “We’ve been a one-industry town for a long time,” Mayor Sharie Minions told On The Island host Gregor Craigie. “Most families kind of plan to be able to survive maybe a few weeks off work but when it gets into that longer term … we’re really going to feel the impacts.” …Roughly 200 families that rely on a WFP paycheque live in Port Alberni.

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New Fort Frances mill owner has “highest and best use” redevelopment plans

By Ian Ross
Northern Ontario Business
July 19, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada East, Canada

Justus Veldman

The new owner of the former Fort Frances pulp and paper mill is promising a “highest and best use” for the industrial site and the 300-acre land package he’s acquired in the northwestern Ontario community. Justus Veldman, CEO of Riversedge Developments, said his group will be issuing a press release over the next few days with the details of the transaction and a soon-to-be-announced development partnership. …Veldman is promising a thorough engagement process through community open houses “where the public can ask pointed questions directly at us.” …The mayor of Fort Frances, June Caul, is viewing the arrival of Riversedge with a great deal of trepidation, given the company is a brownfield site redeveloper. Veldman didn’t dismiss the possibility of restarting the mill as a forest products operation, if there is fibre available.

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Muskoka Timber Mills fire, 3rd incident of day in Bracebridge, rages all night

By Nicole Martin
CBC News
July 18, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada East, Canada

MUSKOKA, ONTARIO — Firefighters are still at the scene of a massive fire at the Muskoka Timber Mills that had been raging all night. The Bracebridge Fire Department said the fire has been knocked down but is still smouldering and that crews could be dealing with hotspots for quite some time. The blaze at the lumber yard, located at 2152 Manitoba Street, just north of downtown Bracebridge, is one of three separate fires that sparked Wednesday. Around noon, firefighters were called to a fire in a workshop on Fraserburg Road. …Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith described the scene in a tweet as “chaotic,” with all the pump trucks on scene shuttling water from a nearby hydrant. There is no word yet on a cause or extent of the damage.

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Owner of Muskoka Timber Mills thinking of employees right now

By Doug Crosse
My Muskoka Now
July 19, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada East, Canada

BRACEBRIDGE, ON – The owner of Muskoka Timber Mills is thankful to local firefighters for their efforts. Ric Signor spoke to the MyMuskokaNow.com newsroom following the massive blaze that caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage. He has owned the business since 1992 and he says he is not sure what the future holds. “The fire department has been excellent, the first responders have been excellent,” said Signor. “We’re just looking at all options and trying to plan what the future is going to look like.” He is concerned for his 55 employees and wants people to remember the fire happened to them as well. “I just feel for my staff, and we are going to do everything we can to make it as painless for them as I possibly can,” offered Signor. He says he has no idea what caused the blaze and will await the findings of the Ontario Fire Marshall. The biggest issue for a business like Muskoka Timber Mills is the long lead time to fulfill orders.

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Resolute sells mothballed Fort Frances mill to Riversedge

By Ian Ross
Northern Ontario Business
July 16, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada East, Canada

The news that Riversedge Developments now owns the shuttered Fort Frances pulp and paper mill doesn’t inspire much confidence from the town’s mayor. June Caul said the CEO of the brownfield redevelopment company paid an unexpected visit to town hall, July 10, to advise… that the deal with Resolute Forest Products has been finalized. Despite the encounter, …Veldman gave them no indication of his future plans for the site. A promised public announcement… never came to be, leaving it to Resolute to break the news. Caul… openly questions whether the developer is working in “good faith” with the town, or if Veldman remains under a gag order from Resolute from fully disclosing his plans to possibly scrap the entire site. …Veldman and Riversedge are no strangers to Northerners due their acquisitions and subsequent demolitions of paper plants in Sault Ste. Marie, Iroquois Falls and Red Rock.

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Statement confirms sale of Fort Frances mill

The International Falls Journal
July 16, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada East, Canada

The paper mill in Fort Frances has been sold by Resolute Forest Products according to a statement issued Monday. …The Town of Fort Frances wishes to confirm for all of its citizens, stakeholders, and regional partners that the properties comprising the pulp and paper mill in Fort Frances have been sold by Resolute Forest Products. These properties have been transferred to a new owner, which we understand to be a subsidiary of Riversedge Developments that is held in partnership with a local entity. …The town’s goal has been — and continues to be — returning this key economic asset to productive use that preserves its operating capacity and makes use of our region’s publicly-owned forest resources. …Judson said while Monday is a milestone, there are still details to be learned.

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Quebec lumber company Stella-Jones plunges as long-time CEO Brian McManus steps aside

By Nicolas Van Praet
The Globe and Mail
July 15, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada East, Canada

Brian McManus

An unexpected changing of the guard at Stella-Jones Inc. is stoking concern among investors as Brian McManus gets set to leave the Canadian wood-products manufacturer after an 18-year run as chief executive. …Stella shares fell 6 per cent to close at $44.03 on the Toronto Stock Exchange Monday. The CEO’s departure… “may be interpreted by some investors as a sign that the long-term growth prospects for Stella-Jones are dimming,” CIBC Capital Markets analyst Hamir Patel said. Since Mr. McManus joined Stella in 2001, the company’s share price has increased from $0.55 to $46.87, he noted. …The company pushed past $2-billion in annual revenue for the first time in 2018 but it has faced headwinds over the past two years. Mr. McManus… emphasized the management team he has assembled… and he rejected the suggestion that Stella’s best days are behind it. [to access the full story a Globe & Mail subscription is required]

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A mixed bag on residential construction costs

By Chris Wille
The Herald Tribune
July 16, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: US East, United States

FLORIDA — Potential homebuyers and others may wonder about the breakdown of the costs that influence the sales price of a typical new single-family home. Those costs keep shifting depending on market forces, labor availability, tariffs, import restrictions, and government fees and regulations, among other variables. “Our costs went way up at the beginning of 2019,” said Pat Neal, the founder and chairman of Neal Communities. The company has built more than 14,000 homes in communities from Tampa to Naples. Per-home costs for windows jumped $2,500, and $1,000 for steel, which Neal blamed on tariffs. Lumber prices soared by $4,000 per home because of import restrictions. …That market softness shows up in the number of single-family home building permits issued in the Sarasota-Manatee metro area from January to mid-April this year, compared to the same time frame in 2018.

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Stora Enso Evaluates Expansion in Wood Products

By Stora Enso
Cision Newswire
July 18, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: International

HELSINKI — Stora Enso has initiated feasibility studies for a possible cross laminated timber unit in connection with its Ždírec mill in the Czech Republic and a new construction beam unit to be located at the Ybbs mill in Austria. Stora Enso also plans to consolidate production to increase focus on efficiency and to streamline the asset base. …The proposed expansion in Ždírec would add a total annual capacity of approximately 120 000 m3of CLT. It would be Stora Enso’s fourth CLT unit, following the inauguration of the Gruvön CLT unit in Sweden earlier this year. The study is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.

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M’sia’s furniture exports to US jump amid trade war

By Sulhi Khalid
The Malaysian Reserve
July 18, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: International

THE country’s furniture exports to the US jumped 20.8% to RM1.55 billion in the first five months of 2019, as American buyers shifting their orders to South-East Asian countries due to the ongoing US-China trade war. Malaysia External Trade Development Corp CEO said furniture exports saw an increase of 9.6% to RM4.14 billion, compared to the corresponding period last year. The main exports of Malaysian furniture include wooden bedroom furniture, chairs with wooden frames, office furniture and kitchen furniture. He also urged the industry players to explore the possibilities of transitioning from original equipment manufacturing, to original design manufacturing or original brand manufacturing, as the country has a strong pool of furniture exporters with a niche in manufacturing. …“The furniture industry has also been recognised as one of the main industries capable to drive the transformation of the manufacturing industry into one that champions Industrial 4.0,” he added.

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Afghanistan’s Forests Are Turning a Profit for the Islamic State

By Stefanie Glinski
Foreign Policy.com
July 15, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: International

AFGHANISTAN — …Small numbers of fighters for the Islamic State of Khorasan Province, the Afghan branch of the militant group, have been in Kunar since 2015. But the group’s new stronghold is in Kunar’s deep forests, inheriting a booming wood industry previously controlled by the Taliban that is now generating a growing income for Islamic State militants. Safi’s government outpost in Chawkay district is along one of the front lines for the war on the Islamic State. But it’s also a key entry point for smugglers bringing wood from the forests to other parts of Afghanistan or neighboring Pakistan. The provincial government banned the sale of wood in 2016, fearing increasing deforestation. …“After terrorism, wood smuggling is the second biggest problem here,” explained Kunar’s deputy police chief, Col. Mohammed Yousuf.

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