Recent History – 1999
Jan. 20, 1999, By Mike Leschart, Daily News Staff
The B.C. Ministry of Forests is evaluating bids from rival companies looking to harvest some forest area near Dawson Creek — and both projects would create new facilities and jobs for nearby towns.
Tumbler Ridge Specialty Wood Products and Spruceland Forest Products are competing to join the four other licensees currently operating in the Dawson Creek area.
The Tumbler Ridge bid proposes to create a small pine sawmill which would cut raw material to specific metric dimensions for value-added producers.
“There’s a shortage of raw material for the value-added producers around,” said Scott LaPrairie, president of the recently formed company. The proposed mill would create about 47 new jobs in Tumbler Ridge, and is intended partly to compensate for the massive layoffs the town has experienced with the Quintette and Bullmoose mines.
“We were looking for something to do as far as far as creating employment and keeping our assets working,” he said.
The company has already worked out an arrangement with local mines to use the waste, LaPrairie said. The brown waste would be shipped to area mines and used in their revegetation process.
Building the facility would require a $3 million investment, he added, and commitments to finance the project are in place.
Spruceland’s proposal would see the creation of a different facility, concentrating on the production of value-added products targeting the do-it-yourself retail market. The company already has operations in Houston and Richmond, B.C., and would expand on an existing commitment to build a new facility in Chetwynd.
“That’s a facility,” said Spruceland’s Woodlands Manager Dave Mayer, “[in] downtown Chetwynd employing 56 new manufacturing on-site value-added jobs”.
Ten per cent of the mill’s production would remain in B.C., said Mayer, and some of the material would be sold locally.
According to Terry Dyer, District Manager of Dawson Creek Forest Services, the government’s desire to have a long-term contract in place led to the request for tenders.
“It would be the best strategy for the ministry if [a contract] was tied directly to a manufacturing facility in the Dawson Creek area for the next 15 years that would generate additional employment,” he said.
The ministry invited applications for 15-year non-replaceable licenses last September, and recently closed the opportunity for public input. The applications will work their way through the ministry, and will eventually reach the desk of Forest Minister David Zirnhelt.
Dyer said the proposals will be evaluated for several criteria: promoting local employment, community stability, amount of capital required for a facility, when a mill can be constructed and whether environmental concerns are adequately addressed.
“If it’s clear that one is providing much more local employment than the other, then that will be one of the things we consider when we evaluate this and make our recommendation to the minister,” Dyer said. While he said it is difficult to determine how long the review process might take, Dyer suggested there could be a decision by early spring.