Job fair held at Kwah Hall in Fort St. James on July 31. Over 35 employers came for the fair. (Aman Parhar photo)

Conifex employees uncertain about sale agreement

A job fair was held at Kwah Hall in Fort St. James on July 31 to help workers transition to other jobs

Fort St. James held a job fair for workers that are affected by Conifex selling their sawmill to Hampton Lumber in Burns Lake.

The lumber company, which owns the Babine and Decker Lake mills in Burns Lake, will make the purchase for about $39 million, Hampton and Conifex said in a joint press release on June 24.

Approximately 226 employees have been affected by the sale.

The job fair was held at Kwah Hall in Fort St. James on July 31 and over 35 employers and 100 residents showed up for the fair which ran for four hours.

Ken Honeywell, a Conifex employee who has worked at the District’s sawmill for 28 years was looking for a job and said his biggest concern is the uncertainty associated with the sale.

He said rumours are circulating that the logs are being moved out of the district, but the mayor and council says that isn’t true.

“No one is telling us anything. You see logs leaving town everyday. Hampton hasn’t confirmed when they will re-open the Fort St. James sawmill. There are rumours that they will re-open the mill here in 2 years. A lot of us cannot wait for that long,” Honeywell said.

He was expecting to find a new position or career as he said,”there seems to be no hope right now. Until the sale gets finalized no one will say anything. It’s like a gag order. You see between 6 to 20 trucks leave the District everyday.”

Honeywell said he has been off work since May 4.

Meanwhile, in a prior interview with Black Press Media, Hampton CEO Steve Zika had said the company’s plan is to dismantle the existing sawmill as some of the equipment may have future value.

Shaune Corrigan, another mill worker at the Fort St. James sawmill who has worked there for 27 years, said he would be happy if Hampton would hire some of the mill workers to tear down the plant.

“We would be happy if Hampton would come and say they are ripping the mill down, hire some of us to pull the steel out, you know do the spark watch, help build the place. That’s the hope I am looking for.”

“If they want to help the community and want to be a part of it, they need to help us too,” Corrigan said. As for moving out of the community, Corrigan said he has investments and property in Fort St. James and it wouldn’t make sense to leave.

“I would much rather retire and open my own food truck that I have been saving for. Yes I would like to work at a mill, that’s my trade, but you do what you got to do,” he added.

Mayor Bev Playfair said she was excited to see the response of the community for the job fair.

“This is how Fort St. James works together. I couldn’t just be more proud of the job that got done today. There was ample opportunity there for employment, right from carpentry to pipeline, equipment operators, first-aid attendants to security. It was amazing how many jobs are out there,” she said.

In terms of information about current negotiations, Playfair said the sale negotiations are in their early stages. She said more information would be made available once District council gets a chance to sit with the provincial government, Hampton and Conifex to confirm the deal.

And in regard to the rumours about logs leaving town, Playfair said, “Since the time I became Mayor, we have a strong stance about no more logs leaving the community and we know Nak’azdli Whut’en stands with us on that.”

With files from Blair McBride


Aman Parhar
Editor, Vanderhoof Omineca Express

aman.parhar@ominecaexpress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Just Posted

Province, feds, Wet’suwet’en announce progress in MOU talks

Community engagement process launched to implement northern B.C. First Nation’s rights and title

Province, feds, Wet’suwet’en announce progress in MOU talks

External community engagement process launched to help implement Wet’suwet’en rights and title

Update: Accident on Highway 16 causes power outage in Vanderhoof

397 customers still without electricity as of 4:25 p.m. on Aug 13.

Route announced for the Great Regional Air Hug of 2020

Aircraft will be departing from the Vanderhoof Municipal Airport at 12 p.m. on Aug. 15

“Let’s break the silence because we can”

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s awareness walk held Saturday in Fort St. James

‘Don’t kill my mom’: Ryan Reynolds calls on young British Columbians to be COVID-smart

‘Deadpool’ celebrity responds to premier’s call for social influence support

Captain Horvat’s OT marker lifts Canucks to 4-3 win over Blues

Vancouver takes 2-0 lead in best-of-7 NHL playoff series with St. Louis

Widow of slain Red Deer doctor thanks community for support ahead of vigil

Fellow doctors, members of the public will gather for a physically-distanced vigil in central Alberta

Protesters showcase massive old yellow cedar as Port Renfrew area forest blockade continues

9.5-foot-wide yellow cedar measured by Ancient Forest Alliance campaigners in Fairy Creek watershed

Taking dog feces and a jackhammer to neighbourhood dispute costs B.C. man $16,000

‘Pellegrin’s actions were motivated by malice …a vindictive, pointless, dangerous and unlawful act’

Racist stickers at Keremeos pub leaves group uneasy and angry

The ‘OK’ hand gesture is a known hate-symbol

VIDEO: World responds to B.C. girl after pandemic cancels birthday party

Dozens of cards and numerous packages were delivered to six-year-old Charlie Manning

Expected fall peak of COVID-19 in Canada could overwhelm health systems: Tam

National modelling projections released Friday show an expected peak in cases this fall

Most Read