Market improvement prompts Tolko to restart High Prairie OSB mill
June 21, 2017 - Tolko Industries is restarting its oriented strand board mill near High Prairie, Alta., and looking to employ about 175 people.
By Maria Church
The mill closed in 2008 in response to record low North American housing starts and a resulting drop in the market for OSB.
The company credits improving markets and optimism that housing start will continue to trend upwards for the decision to restart the OSB mill. Production is expected to begin in early 2018. Once fully operational, the mill will employ about 175 people and support a contractor logging workforce.
Tolko currently employs 330 people at its High Level lumber mill and 150 people at the Athabasca (Slave Lake) OSB mill.
“We’re very happy to get this mill back up and running – it’s good news for our people and for northern Alberta,” Brad Thorlakson, president and CEO of Tolko, said in a news release. “We are confident that current improvements in market conditions are sustainable and that customer demand for Tolko oriented strand board products will remain strong.”
Thorlakson thanks Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Agriculture and Forestry Minister, Oneil Carlier, for the recent decision to grant a five-year extension to the existing Tolko High Prairie forest management area. “This was key to the restart decision,” he said.
“Forestry is a big part of our way of life in Northern Alberta, so it’s great to see that the Tolko mill will be creating jobs and supporting our region once again,” Danielle Larivee, MLA for Lesser Slave Lake, said in the release.
The mill restart has received strong support from Big Lakes County and the Town of High Prairie, as well as the local First Nations and Métis Settlements.
“Big Lakes County, after agreeing to a four-year phase-in taxation agreement, is pleased that Tolko Industries has decided to reopen the High Prairie mill. The County is looking forward to the increased employment and the economic benefits of Tolko reopening,” Reeve Ken Matthews of Big Lakes County said.
“I couldn’t be happier with this announcement,” said Town of High Prairie Mayor Linda Cox. “We have worked hard to bring community groups together, to facilitate discussions and help position the Tolko mill for a restart. We look forward to the employment opportunities and economic benefits that the mill will offer.”
“This is an important announcement for our communities,” Chief Robert Grey of the Whitefish First Nation said. “The restart of the mill will provide valuable jobs in the area, and create shared responsibilities on forest management and environmental protection on our traditional lands.”
Find a list of employment opportunities at the High Prairie mill and other Tolko operations at www.tolko.com.