In 2009, Canadian Forest Products (Canfor) restarted operations at its Mackenzie sawmill in British Columbia. The decision to restart operations in Mackenzie was a result of Canfor's efforts to increase its production of value-added products and the support of Northern Development's Capital Investment and Training Rebate job creation incentive to generate manufacturing sector employment in Mackenzie.
After working closely with the town of Mackenzie, the Province of British Columbia, and the unionized workforce, Canfor opened their mill in Mackenzie which had been closed since 2008. During the shutdowns caused by downturns in the global economy, Canfor conducted extensive market research and development studies identifying the demand for the value-added forestry products that justified the re-opening of the Mackenzie mill in July 2009.
Mackenzie's economy is almost entirely dependent on the forestry industry and with the closure of all the mills, the town faced extremely difficult challenges to ensure the community's long-term viability. The reopening of the Canfor's Mackenzie sawmill was seen by the community as an important step forward for this forest reliant community.
"With the restart of the mill in 2009 and the addition of the second shift in 2010, we are please to have been able to directly put 130 employees back to work in Mackenzie, a community extremely hard hit by the economic downturn, not to mention the additional contract, supply and support work created by our operations. In particular, Canfor is appreciative of the training support provided to ensure that our employees were prepared for a safe return or introduction to our complex milling environment."
Mark Feldinger, Canfor Vice President Manufacturing
"The Canfor Mill reopening was the first rung on the ladder towards economic recovery, the funding from Northern Development allowed the mill to increase the quality of their product enabling two shifts to begin working."
Stephanie Killam, Mayor of Mackenzie
Positive Economic Impacts in Mackenzie
Canadian Forest Products' Mackenzie sawmill returned to operations with a single shift in July 2009. This decision resulted in the production of eighty million board feet annually of Spruce-Pine-Fir lumber within the community.
The initial single shift restart of operations in Mackenzie directly employed approximately sixty people. In addition, numerous locally-based suppliers and contractors in Mackenzie were back to work in relation to supporting the facilities operation and maintenance. The Canfor mill was the first to reopen in Mackenzie after the global downturn that closed all six mills within the community.
The reopening of Canfor's sawmill provided Mackenzie with a key anchor within the wood products and forestry sector that has since seen a number of companies including Conifex Timber Inc. and Paper Excellence invest in the community, creating hundreds of well-paying manufacturing related jobs and millions of new investment in the community.
In 2011, the mill continues full operations and now runs two full-time shifts employing approximately 140 people. The Canfor mill has been a large contributor to Mackenzie's economic recovery as it is one of the largest employers in the community, has been a staple in the local economy since the town's incorporation in 1966, and was the first company to restart its Mackenzie operations, helping to build confidence in the community's forestry and wood products sector with a number of other companies that are now operating in Mackenzie.
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