“I spend a lot of time on the road and up until recently I hated logging trucks,” said Mayor John Harwood. “Now, I’m glad to see them.”
“The social impact of this is profound,” added the mayor at the official re-opening of the mill on Tuesday, Sept.6, after a two-year shutdown. “It’s a good thing for Clearwater and for the Valley.”
“It was exciting to see the restart of this sawmill, which will create 96 jobs at the mill by the end of September and a further 30 jobs in logging and trucking,” said Terry Lake, MLA for Kamloops-North Thompson. “The significance in a community the size of Vavenby-Clearwater can’t be overstated, and emphasizes the continuing importance of the work to develop new markets for forest products.”
The restart follows a $24 million capital investment in the mill.
“That’s not insignificant,” said Alistair Cook, Canfor senior vice-president for Canadian wood products operations. “We wanted to make sure we built a mill here that can compete for the long-term.”
The improvements include a new canter line, which cuts the logs into square-shaped cants and then into lumber.
Upgraded optimization software in the sawmill means better value can be obtained from each log.
“It’s the latest in technology is the best way to put it,” said Cook.
A new grade optimizer in the planer and an upgraded planer feed system will likewise ensure the best possible value is obtained from each piece of lumber after it is cut. Several grader-man positions will be eliminated but those individuals affected are being offered jobs elsewhere in the operation, said the Canfor vice-president.
It is important to the company to keep those skills available, he noted.
Added sorting capacity will likewise seek to get the maximum value from the wood.
Cook said that if they have, for example, a 20’ two-by-four but the market indicates they would get a better price for two 10’ lengths, it would automatically be cut and the pieces sent into a separate bin.
Vavenby has a good mix of species and has not been heavily hit by mountain pine beetle, compared to some other operations elsewhere in the province.
“Wood from Vavenby will be going worldwide; some to North America and some to Asia,” said Cook. “It all depends on having quality fiber, and this facility has access to good quality fiber.”
The Canfor senior vice-president also was impressed with the local workforce and community.
“It’s a great workforce,” he said, “and it’s a nice part of the province. People like living here.”
“This reopening is a real win-win for the community and for Canfor.”
Production at the sawmill began two weeks ago while production at the planer mill is expected to begin about two weeks afterwards.
Cook could not give a firm date on when a second shift would begin work but said he hoped it would happen before the New Year.
According to a Canfor news release, at full production, Vavenby will produce 240 million board feet of SPF (spruce-pine-fir) per year.
“Our committed, exceptional workforce in Vavenby, the company’s capital investment program and the excellent work that government has done to partner with industry in developing new markets for our products has allowed us to restart this facility” said Canfor CEO Don Kayne in the release. “Lumber from Vavenby will go to valued Canfor customers around the world.”