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Tolko to shut down Quesnel mill, reduce shifts in Kelowna


May 13, 2019
By Tolko Industries

Tolko Industries Ltd. has announced the permanent closure of its Quest Wood sawmill in Quesnel, B.C., and a reduction from two shifts to one at its Kelowna, B.C., sawmill.

“This is a difficult but necessary decision,” said Brad Thorlakson, President and CEO. “Quest Wood has been part of the Tolko family since 1981 and Kelowna since 2004 when we acquired Riverside Forest Products.”

“Unfortunately, we do not have enough economic fibre to keep all of our British Columbia mills running efficiently and productively. We knew that AAC reductions were coming in British Columbia due to the devastation caused by the Mountain Pine Beetle epidemic. The curtailments announced today are sooner than anticipated due to uneconomic log costs, weak lumber markets, and the catastrophic impacts of wildfires.”

Thorlakson recognizes today will be a hard day for many and with that in mind, Tolko’s HR team is on-site today and will be providing support to employees at both mills throughout the transition.

“This is a business decision and does not reflect on the commitment or work of our employees at these two operations. They have made significant contributions to Tolko over many years, and we are grateful for their efforts.”

“We will be working with a number of agencies to help people transition to new employment, and we will do everything we can to provide opportunities at other Tolko divisions to minimize the impact on employees and their families.”

Representatives from Tolko’s Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) are also available on-site and by phone to assist impacted employees. This service will be made available to employees over the coming weeks to help them with any emotional issues and with financial and career planning.

“These decisions have been made after a long and detailed analysis and are necessary for the long-term prosperity of Tolko and are consistent with our commitment to sustainability,” said Thorlakson, who concluded by saying that all remaining Tolko divisions would continue operating on their regular schedules.

The Quest Wood closure process will begin on Friday, Aug. 2, 2019. Approximately 150 employees are impacted.

The reduction in shifting at the Kelowna mill is effective on July 12, 2019. Approximately 90 employees are impacted by the shifting reduction.

These two decisions will remove 250 million board feet from Tolko’s production in B.C.