North Central Plywood won’t rise from the ashes after all.
The destruction of the mill was a sucker punch to a local forest industry already on the ropes.
However, it’s hard to blame Canfor’s board for doing what they did they’re responsible to the shareholders first and foremost. The company exists to make money, not to make jobs.
Instead of rebuilding a plywood mill that was rapidly running out of wood because of the pine beetle, they invested in making the Fort St. John mill more efficient. The Fort’s frosty winter weather protects it against the ravages of the mountain pine beetle.
It was a smart, forward-thinking, strategic move. That doesn’t make it any less of a kick in the teeth for Prince George, though.
It’s also a wake up call. The writing is on the trees, and it’s painted in bright red.
Currently nearly 90 per cent of the wood going through Canfor’s lumber mills in the Interior is dead pine, Cafor vice-president Mark Feldinger said.
It’s a matter of time before the cost to harvest and process the wood outweighs the profit. When that time comes, companies will do what it takes to stay in the black.
The clock is ticking on every forestry job in this community.
It might be a slow, gradual decline or it could be a sudden event that triggers a major collapse. Either way, we need to be prepared as a community.
A common response to difficult economic times is to batten down the hatches, cut spending and weather the storm.
However, as a city we need exactly the opposite approach.
We need bold, risk-taking entrepreneurs who are willing to put their financial future on the line to invest in new and unproven opportunities.
We can’t rely on some deep-pocketed corporation to come and save the day with a big new investment. With the new requirements for environmental assessments and consultation, any big’ project takes a lot of time to come to fruition.
If we want to thrive, we have to show we have confidence in our own community and invest in it.
There is dozens of possible businesses which could be developed in this city, and resources to help new and existing entrepreneurs create them.
The future will be challenging, but it need not be bleak.