The Canfor mill in Vavenby closed for good in July 2019, leaving about 175 people without jobs. Photograph By JESSICA WALLACE/KTW FILE

TNRD director says Canfor needs to open its wallet for Vavenby

Canfor closed its sawmill last July, leaving about 175 people out of work.

  • Apr. 30, 2020 12:00 a.m.

Jessica Wallace/Kamloops This Week

A Thompson-Nicola Regional District director is unhappy over legacy negotiations with Canfor after the forestry company shuttered a longtime sawmill in her small, rural community.

Director Carol Schaffer, who represents Wells Gray Country around Clearwater and Vavenby, said during a recent TNRD board meeting that she recently had a conference with the company to discuss Vavenby’s legacy.

Canfor closed its sawmill last July, leaving about 175 people out of work.

She said the community has asked for $200,000, but Canfor is only offering $25,000. Schaffer said she is not happy with the proposal after Clearwater and United Way received large amounts of money from Canfor in February as a result of the company selling its timber rights in the area to Interfor for $60 million. Interfor will use that forest tenure transfer to supply wood to its Adams Lake mill.

As a result of government approval of the forest tenure transfer, Canfor committed to creating a $200,000 legacy fund for the District of Clearwater, to be used at the town’s discretion, provide $150,000 over five years to the United Way and give $500,000 in funding to the Wells Gray Community Forest.

“We have had that sawmill down there for 68 years down in Vavenby and I think we deserve more than $25,000,” Schaffer said.

Schaffer told the board that the $200,000 requested would go toward fire protection and water in her community.

She put forth a motion requesting from the Canfor board of directors the $200,000.

It was supported unanimously by the board.

Canfor is definitely playing hardball on this file with director Schaffer in trying to pit our two communities against each other,” Clearwater Mayor Merlin Blackwell said. “I definitely vote in favour of this.”

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