Modern domestic pellet stove with a burning flame and bags full of particle pellets. (Stock photo)

Pellet shortage felt across Bulkley Valley

Forestry minister says most production is being shipped overseas

UPDATE:

As of Thursday Tri-Town Lumber is still sold out; BV Home centre also does not have any and isn’t expecting another shipment for two weeks; Home Hardware in Smithers has some coming in on Monday, Canadian Tire is without and the Feed Store in Smithers is also sold out and not expecting more for at least another week.

A wood pellet storage is hitting the northwest and with temperatures expected to drop this week, the timing couldn’t be worse.

Vanderhoof Specialty Wood Products produces Platinum pellets and supplies Tri-Town Lumber in Hazelton and the Feed Store in Smithers. Both stores are completely sold out.

Tom DeVries of the Feed Store said it could be several weeks before they see another shipment.

“They are telling us two, three or maybe even four weeks before we get more, there is just a shortage of product,” he said. “We are hoping to get some more but then again when we do, it’ll go so fast. It is always a concern [for the business] when something like that happens, but it is probably more of a concern for all these people who have pellet stoves and can’t get pellets. I hear that people need them.”

He understands the timing isn’t great.

“It is going to get so cold, it is a terrible time and it isn’t like anyone is on strike or anything. The mill shutting down over the Christmas break, they [Vanderhoof Specialty Wood Products] didn’t get any shavings.”

Peter De Jong of Tri-Town said they can’t get any pellets right now either.

“We can’t get any from our usual supplier. We’ve been supplying pellets here for years. Not being able to provide the community with pellets is a bit difficult,” he said.

Doug Donaldson, MLA for Stikine wrote on his Facebook page that Vanderhoof Specialty Wood Products is the only bagged pellet producer supplying the domestic market in the northwest.

Companies in the pellet industry have stopped bagging for domestic use and are solely focusing on bulk exports to Japan, China and Europe where they have signed long-term supply contracts, he said.

“I agree with those of you who have raised the social contract, social licence issue. That our publicly owned forests need to support BC communities first and foremost. I’ll continue to work on the pellet shortage and the social contract topics,” he wrote.

He also said he has briefed Jennifer Rice, parliamentary secretary for emergency preparedness on the situation.

Gitxsan Development Corporation posted on their Facebook page that Gitxsan Energy Inc. is now open for business with bulk pellet sales. They have bulk truck sales and bulk container sales.

Canadian Tire in Smithers was also sold out as of Monday morning but Bulkley Valley Home Centre in Telkwa still had some.

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