Vaagen Fibre Canada has announced it has indefinitely shut down the Midway mill operation, citing challenges with accessing wood fibre at market prices, according to a news release issued Friday (Jan. 6).
“Vaagen Fibre Canada is a non-tenured mill and has been operating in Midway without forest tenure for the past 10 years,” reads the news release. “As a non-tenured mill, we do not have forest licences to manage Crown forests, which means we must purchase all our logs on the open market including the procurement of logs from local private landowners and woodlot owners.
“Although our team has been creative for years in finding logs to run our mill, there are a few challenges that have compounded for us, and without resolution, the future of our operation is uncertain.
“This is an access to wood fibre at market price issue.”
The closure impacts approximately 85 direct employees, as well as nearly 100 contractors, vendors suppliers and other partners, according to the release.
The news release, written as a letter signed by Duane Vaagen, Kurtis Vaagen and Emily Vaagen Baker, adds that efforts are underway to meet with provincial officials, including former forests minister Katrine Conroy (now the finance minister) and Boundary-Similkameen MLA Roly Russell.
“The goal of this meeting is to review the solutions we believe could keep the mill viable for years to come,” states the news release. “Our Vaagen family and team members are committed to finding solutions and doing all we can to keep Vaagen Fibre Canada viable, providing quality, good paying jobs, and supporting our rural communities.
“We would like to note that we are appreciative of the work of the Ministry of Forests and all the people who work for the Ministry, most notably in our local forest district. Their willingness to communicate, collaborate, and solve unique and challenging situations is a big part of how Vaagen Fibre Canada has been able to do so much within our communities, in collaboration with First Nations, and to build the capacity of our local community forest.
“We all want to keep moving forward, providing those social, environmental, and economic benefits to our region and to the families who rely on us.”
Vaagen Fibre Canada says it is drawing inspiration from the way the community rallied to save the mill after Pope & Talbot left the community in 2008, and encourage community members to contact the local MLA’s office.
“We are confident that together, we can find solutions to turn this situation around so that we may continue to work together, providing good jobs to the people and families of the Boundary, West Kootenay, and Okanagan regions.”