This year’s series of B.C. mill closures and production curtailments have affected more than 5,900 workers at 25 mills in 22 communities, according to provincial estimates.
Marty Gibbons, president of the United Steelworkers union local in Kamloops, estimates more than 400 of his members have lost jobs thanks to the closures of sawmills in Clearwater and Clinton.
But the longtime forestry worker says there’s no comparison with previous industry slowdowns in 2008 and 2015.
Researchers at FEA Canada estimate there will be 53 to 55 sawmills left in the B.C. Interior by 2028, down from about 95 mills in 2007, in a report based mainly on provincial timber supply estimates.
The lack of wood fibre is expected to spill over into closures in the oriented strandboard panel sector, where two mills were closed this year, and will eventually hit the pulp and paper industry as well, said Kevin Mason, managing director of ERA Forest Products Research.