Fort St. James municipal office. (File photo)

Fort St. James municipal office. (File photo)

B.C. town declares financial crisis after sawmill closure leaves 230 workers jobless

The District will have a job fair on July 31 to help workers find transitioning jobs

Fort St. James has declared a state of financial crisis after the closure of a local sawmill has left hundreds without a job.

The city issued the declaration at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, and will be in effect until Aug. 15 unless otherwise cancelled or extended by Mayor Bev Playfair.

The Conifex sawmill was sold to Hampton Lumber, and then closed, in June. An estimated 230 people are now unemployed.

People affected now have access to the district’s tax deferral program, food bank, family assistance programs and mental health services.

A job fair will be hosted locally on July 31.

READ MORE: Hampton to buy Conifex sawmill in Fort St. James

Playfair said she hopes the sawmill is rebuilt into a new facility that rehires most of the unemployed residents.

Mayor Bev Playfair of Fort St. James said, “the best thing we want is Hampton to come to town and build a new facility and put most of the workers back to work.”

District staff have met with Northern Health, Chief Alexander McKinnon of Nak’azdli Whut’en, the Steelworkers’ Union, Services Canada and others to determine a plan of action in transitioning people back into the workforce.

“We want the government to hear us loud and clear and pay attention to our community,” Playfair said.

“This didn’t happen yesterday or a week ago, this all started with an announcement from Conifex on Nov. 30 and then we have been curtailing ever since then.”

Playfair said that many are running out of unemployment insurance.

“The last thing we want is them moving out of the community.”


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

Tim Schewe
Drivesmart column: Pedestrians have rights to use highways

A highway is not the exclusive domain of drivers.

Sahtlam Volunteer Firefighters Association has stepped up, in spite of COVID, for a number of charities. (Submitted)
Sahtlam firefighters step up

Sahtlam Volunteer Firefighters Association has a long history of supporting charities

A mobile home fire prompted a quick response from firefighters Saturday around 3:30 p.m. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Mobile home up in flames at Duncan RV Park

One patient burned, EHS on scene

Phaecelia used as a cover crop attracts bees and provides them with high quality nectar. (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Cover crops keep soil healthy and productive

We don’t harvest a cover crop and instead dig the tops under when they’re immature and soft

Sarah Simpson
Sarah Simpson Column: Home is where you know your neighbours

My mom has lived at that address for 43 years.

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Parts recycled, life returning to inlet as as old Port Alice mill decommissioned

Bankruptcy company oversees de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

Most Read