The MLA for Cariboo North is sharing her reaction on Tolko’s announcement that it will begin the closure process of its Quest Wood sawmill in Quesnel beginning Aug. 2.

“For me, it is really difficult to know what to say at a time like this,” Coralee Oakes said.

“I know it’s devastating news for so many people in our community. Again we’re just going to work at all levels to make sure that supports are in place and that we find new opportunities for everyone who is affected so that they can stay in the community, work in the community, and support their families.”

Approximately 150 employees will be affected.

The decision according to Tolko although difficult was necessary and is due to an economic fibre shortage. President and CEO Brad Thorlakson said the curtailment is sooner than anticipated due to uneconomic log costs, weak lumber markets, and the catastrophic impacts of wildfires.

Tolko will also be reducing its Kelowna sawmill from two shifts to one.

Oakes said the BC NDP needs to put a pause on Bill 22 that is currently before the government, have a different approach on the caribou plan, and have policies in place that help ensure we are not the highest cost producer in North America.

“We recognize that these are very real challenges,” she said.

“This past week at the North Central Local Government Association presentations were made that definitely I think put the Interior again those alarm bells saying we have some serious concerns about what is happening not just with the fibre supply, but being the highest cost producer in North America, fires that we’ve experienced puts us at risk.”

“So as communities we need to work with all levels of government to understand those impacts and to make sure that we are looking for every opportunity to make sure that we are creating jobs in the region.”

(Editor’s Note: Listen to Cariboo North MLA Coralee Oakes with the author of this report in the audio file below)