‘A real shame’: Okanagan 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.

Just Posted

Festival of all things spicy kicks off Friday

Organizers say Sizzle keeps getting bigger and bigger

RDOS board remuneration, expenses come to $500,000

Costs presented in Statement of Financial Information

LocoLanding flowers brighten seniors’ day in Penticton

The many flowers that bloom in LocoLanding during the summer brighten the day for seniors

Affordable housing project in Okanagan Falls ready for tenants

South Skaha Place now accepting applications for affordable housing units

‘It’s almost surreal’: Penticton fire chief, sidekick Sammy recap rescue mission in Bahamas

Chief Larry Watkinson and Sam the disaster dog spent 8 days assisting a search and rescue team

‘Time to take action:’ Children advocates call for national youth suicide strategy

Council wants Ottawa to make reporting of suicides and attempted suicides mandatory for data collection

Swedish rock band Ghost bringing full-scale performance to South Okanagan

The Swedish rock band’s Ultimate Tour Named Death arrives Sept. 21

Canadian inflation decelerates to 1.9% as gas prices weaken

August was the sixth straight month that price growth was 1.9 per cent or higher

Defense says burden of proof not met in double murder case against Victoria father

Closing statements begin in trial for man accused of killing daughters Christmas 2017

B.C. dog breeder banned again after 46 dogs seized

The SPCA seized the animals from Terry Baker, 66, in February 2018

Surrey mom allegedly paid $400,000 for son in U.S. college bribery scam

Xiaoning Sui, 48, was arrested in Spain on Monday night

B.C. population on pace to fall behind Alberta

Provincial population could reach almost seven million in 2043, but Alberta is growing faster

Three dogs found shot dead in Prince George ditch

The three adult dogs appeared to be well cared for before being found with gunshot wounds, BC SPCA says

Most Read