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Vaagen indefinitely shuts B.C. operations, cites fibre access issue

Closure affects 85 employees and nearly 100 contractors, vendors, and suppliers.

January 9, 2023  By  Jennifer Ellson

Vaagen Fibre Canada's mill in Midway, B.C. Photo: Annex Business Media

Vaagen Fibre Canada has indefinitely shut down its mill operations in Midway, B.C., citing challenges with accessing wood fibre at market prices.

“Vaagen Fibre Canada is a non-tenured mill and has been operating in Midway without forest tenure for the past 10 years,” said the Vaagen family, owners of the B.C. facility, in a January 6 statement.

“This is an access to wood fibre at market price issue,” according to the statement signed by Duane Vaagen, Kurtis Vaagen and Emily Vaagen Baker.

“As a non-tenured mill, we do not have forest licences to manage Crown forests, which means we must purchase all our logs on the open market including the procurement of logs from local private landowners and woodlot owners. Although our team has been creative for years in finding logs to run our mill, there are a few challenges that have compounded for us, and without resolution, the future of our operation is uncertain,” the family added.


The closure affects 85 employees, as well as nearly 100 contractors, vendors, and suppliers.

The Midway sawmill was acquired by Vaagen in 2011. At the time of closure, it was producing between 60-70 Mbf per year, specializing in small diameter logs.

The Vaagen family said efforts are underway to meet with provincial officials, including former forests minister and now finance minister Katrine Conroy, the new Minister of Forests Bruce Ralston and Boundary-Similkameen MLA Roly Russell.

“The goal of this meeting is to review the solutions we believe could keep the mill viable for years to come. Our Vaagen family and team members are committed to finding solutions and doing all we can to keep Vaagen Fibre Canada viable, providing quality, good paying jobs, and supporting our rural communities.”

Vaagen Fibre Canada said it hopes that the community will rally yet again to save the mill, similar to what happened in 2008 after the mill’s former owner Pope & Talbot closed the plant and left the community. The Vaagen family is encouraging community members to contact the local MLA’s office to “let him know how important the mill is to our communities and ask him to bring the voice of the people forward to the Minister of Forests to find solutions to help Vaagen Fibre Canada reopen.”

Earlier this month, Canfor Corporation and Tolko Industries announced more temporary curtailments at their facilities in B.C., in addition to previously announced shutdowns, citing weak market conditions and the lack of available economic fibre.

Read the rest of the Vaagen family’s statement.




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