The sawmill at Lakeland Mills will be rebuilt.
Sinclar Group president Greg Stewart made the announcement Wednesday, accompanied by local United Steelworkers Union president and city councillor Frank Everitt and acting mayor Cameron Stolz.
“April 23 was the worst day in Lakeland Mills history,” Stewart said.
Stewart said he recognizes the incredible strength and humanity shown by the community as well as the families of Alan Little and Glenn Roche who lost their lives in the explosion and fire that destroyed the mill April 23, 2012.
Twenty-two others were injured.
“We believe in the community and the three generations of owners and workers from Lakeland,” Stewart said.
The design of the new mill is not yet written in stone, however Stewart said he was able to share some information. It will continue its legacy of producing stud lumber, but now it will produce both metric length and American standard. The change will open new markets for the mill.
Though they’ve accessed the Japanese market for some time, inroads are being made into the growing Chinese market.
Stewart added the mill will be integrated with the existing planer mill, which feeds the downtown energy system.
The new mill will incorporate the latest safety measures and will employ 100 people in two shifts.
The old mill employed 160 people.
A news release said the anticipated design and potential equipment to be installed suggests fewer people will be required. The company will decide who gets hired back by working with the United Steelworkers to make sure hiring practices meet the terms of the collective agreement.
Fibre supply is unlikely to be an issue.
“Lakeland is in a very fortunate situation as a mill itself,” Stewart said.
He noted the mill has access to 250,000 cubic metres of fibre and the Sinclar Group can access another 500,000 in volume-based tenure available following the shutdown of Winton Global.
Fibre was one of many factors used to evaluate the viability of another mill.
Stewart said the price of lumber, though it fluctuates, plays a part as does the employee base, local ownership and the good partnerships established, among them ones with the university, the city and local contractors.
Stewart said he is unaware of anything further from WorkSafeBC regarding its recommendation that the investigation into the fires at Lakeland as well as Babine Forest Products be forwarded to Crown counsel.