Fort St. James access to sawmill sign (Photo supplied by Cole Kelly, MyNechakoValleyNow.com staff)
The community of Fort Saint James sustained another blow this week after the Sinclar Group announced a two-week curtailment at Apollo Forest Products.
It’s been a rough stretch for the district as they declared a state of financial crisis due to the Conifex sawmill closure that impacted 226 workers.
Mayor Bev Playfair told MyNechakoValleyNow.com while news of this kind is never good, she remains upbeat the company will resume operations in the fall.
“Apollo Forest Products has just celebrated their 50th year anniversary in Fort Saint James and this is the first time in 50 years that they have ever curtailed and I think it is a sign of the forest industry.”
“We certainly hope the curtailment doesn’t last past the two week period, hopefully, families can enjoy the last two weeks of August and maybe have a holiday and hopefully September 3rd they return back to work.”
While the announcement doesn’t seem grave, Playfair can’t imagine what the out-of-work employees must be going through.
“They are worried sick and they don’t know if they should be looking at moving out of the community, which is the last thing they want to do, we at the district don’t want these people moving out of the community but we also understand people need a paycheque.”
As bleak as the situation may look in the community of about 1,600 residents, Playfair admits they are far from the only ones experiencing this issue.
“We’re not the only community. 100 Mile House has gone through a really rough time with losing their OSB plant, the Kassim sawmill down at 70 Mile, our hearts are with them and our hearts are with Mackenzie as they lost Canfor and now Conifex is on a curtailment so there are a few communities who are caught in the same predicament right now.”
The curtailment takes place on August 19th and will also impact Lakeland Mills in Prince George and Nechako Lumber in Vanderhoof.
In total, about 300 employees will be affected.