‘A real shame’: B.C. MLA says factors behind Tolko mill closing should have been caught

Kelowna-Mission MLA Steve Thomson said the industry is in bad shape across the province

There were many reasons why Kelowna’s Tolko mill closed its doors earlier this week.

Poor market conditions were tagged as the biggest factor, but for local MLA Steve Thomson the factors should have been caught earlier. From recognizing patterns throughout the forest industry in the province to the rising costs of the market, Thomson said the fault lies with the province’s leadership.

“It’s a real shame that the current NDP government has been really missing in action in terms of response to this news,” said Thomson. “There are things they could have done and they haven’t taken any steps to fixing this crisis.”

READ MORE: Kelowna Tolko mill shut down for ‘indeterminate’ amount of time

Thomson, the former forest minister up until 2017, pointed out the patterns in the industry throughout the province; mills in Quesnel and Maple Ridge were closed earlier in the summer, as well as job cuts to B.C.’s logging contractors.

The Tolko closure will also trickle into other industries in the Okanagan and have an indirect impact on suppliers, contractors and others in the sector, Thomson said. Operating costs, stumpage fees and timber supplies have all contributed to the industry’s fallout.

“It another bit of bad news for this sector,” said Thomson.

“And it’s devastating news for the employees and families. We’ll be advocating to make sure the appropriate supports are brought in for those who lost their jobs. The [B.C.] government has been late on those responses like EI [Employment Insurance] and it’s impacting so many communities.”

READ MORE: Twice laid off due to sawmill closings, B.C. worker ready for a new career

READ MORE: Kelowna job market taking a hit due to speculation tax: CHBA

Tolko employees were on a six-week break and were expected to return to work on Sept. 16, but the mill closed its doors for ‘an indeterminate’ amount of time on Sept. 12, laying-off close to 130 employees.

“This decision was not easy for us to make,” said Tolko’s Troy Connolly at the time.

“We are very disappointed to be in a position where we have to curtail the mill, particularly given the reasons for this extension are beyond our control. However, with lumber market prices at sustained low levels and high log costs in B.C., the mill cannot be cost-competitive.”

As for any future fixes, Thomson said that as long as there is no significant response or action from the provincial government there won’t be a quick turnaround in the industry and there will be permanent mill closures across B.C.

To report a typo, email:
newstips@kelownacapnews.com
.


@KelownaCapNews
newstips@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Just Posted

UPDATE: Body of Slocan River drowning victim recovered

The man was swimming near Winlaw on Wednesday.

July Kootenay real estate sales at record high

Sales and prices of Kootenay real estate on the rise

Nelson’s SMRT1 Technologies to provide vending tech to Vancouver company

UpMeals will launch 22 machines across Canada using SMRT1’s personalized machines

Amid pandemic, a new Castlegar princess is crowned

Hailey Gleboff was named Castlegar Princess.

No charges yet in death of Abbotsford officer Allan Young

Police and Crown say the investigation is still underway

QUIZ: Do you know the truth?

In what has been described as a post-truth era, how much do you know about truth and lies?

Simon Cowell breaks his back falling from electric bike

Incident happened at his home in California

VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy through dance, forms cross-cultural connections amid pandemic

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

New mothers with COVID-19 should still breastfeed: Canada’s top doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam made the recommendation during World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Most Read