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Canfor selling Mackenzie sawmill to Peak Renewables

McLeod Lake Indian Band, Tsay Keh Dene Nation strike agreement to buy Canfor's forest tenure in the region
Canfor Corp. announced it will be selling its sawmill and associated assets in Mackenzie to Peak Renewables. Glacier Media file photo

Canfor Corp. announced it is selling its Mackenzie site, plant and equipment to Peak Renewables for a combined price of $70 million, on Thursday.

In addition, Canfor has entered into a Letter of Intent to sell its forest tenure in the Mackenzie region to the McLeod Lake Indian Band and Tsay Keh Dene Nation.

“We are very pleased that the sale of the Mackenzie tenure will provide an opportunity for the McLeod Lake Indian Band and Tsay Keh Dene Nation to grow their leadership in the forest economy and advance Nation stewardship values for the benefit of their communities,” Canfor president Don Kayne said in a statement released by the company.

Canfor and the two First Nations intend to work towards a definitive agreement for the forest tenure sale and seek provincial approval for the transfer.

“As stewards of our ancestral territory, we, the People of the Rocks, are pleased to be acquiring this forestry tenure within our Territory,” McLeod Lake Indian Band Chief Harley Chingee said in a statement. “This purchase represents an important opportunity for us to continue our work towards economic stability and prosperity for our members, communities and business partners, all while ensuring careful and responsible stewardship of our sacred environment in accordance with our Tse’khene laws, customs and traditional knowledge.”

The plan proposed in the Letter of Intent would see Canfor’s forest tenure subdivided between the two Indigenous groups, Tsay Keh Dene Chief Johnny Pierre said in a statement.

“First Nations in B.C. have been relegated to marginal roles in the forest sector for far too long,” Pierre said.  “The Letter of Intent signed with Canfor has the potential to dramatically change this imbalance within the Mackenzie Timber Supply Area.”

Canfor announced an “indefinite curtailment” of operations at its Mackenzie Sawmill in July 2019. The move resulted in the loss of 250 jobs, in the hard-hit forestry town, located 183 kilometres north of Prince George.

Peak Renewables was founded by Vanderhoof businessman Brian Fehr, founder of the BID Group, which operates businesses in Prince George, Vanderhoof, Salmon Arm, Quebec and the United States.

Peak Renewables operates sawmills in Galloway and Vavenby, B.C. The company also owns a finger joint plant in Cranbrook, a pellet plant in Fort Nelson and an OSB plant in Prince Alberta, Sask.

The company has working partnerships with four Indigenous groups, including the Fort Nelson First Nation.

“We build partnerships with Indigenous communities,” the company’s website says. “This keeps the benefits of a forest economy local while protecting the environment and traditional Indigenous values.”

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