Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson, while acknowledging the impact on some of the employees at the West Fraser sawmill as a result of a lost shift, says there won’t be a big impact to the city.
“There isn’t a net impact on the City’s revenues, because the mill will still be running, it will still be assessed at the same level, so the taxation for the city that funds all of the city services will continue, so from a financial perspective this does not create any harm to the city’s finances.”
We also asked Simpson if Quesnel has already started making adjustments to the new forest industry…
“We started to make the transition adjustments that we’ve needed over the last few years. Unfortunately the previous administrations chose not to do the longer term work, we would have been in a much better place if previous Mayors had shown the kind of leadership that’s been necessary. We’ve accelerated that transition over the last term, so we have a lot of pieces in play that will help us through this transition period. And we have a great relationship with our post secondary institutions. We have a great trades facility here, we’re looking at hopefully expanding some of the post secondary opportunities, so we do have some flexibility to be able to do some of that training locally.”
Getting back to the workers who will be impacted, Simpson says West Fraser has indicated to the city that they will be making every effort to accommodate those workers within the West Fraser operations throughout British Columbia, as well as help them with transition training.
He says he’s also appreciative of the struggles that all of the companies have just now, between a shrinking fibre supply because of the mountain pine beetle and the fires and the costs associated with fewer and fewer sawlogs available, against the backdrop of a rapidly declining lumber market.