A rally is in the works to protest the recently announced closure of the pulp line at Canfor’s Prince George Pulp and Paper Mill.
The closure will result in the loss of 300 jobs and Canfor is blaming a lack of fibre for its pulp operations.
The shutdown will result in a reduction of 280,000 tonnes of market kraft pulp annually. However, Canfor said the specialty paper facility at the mill will stay open.
Organizers of the rally say the closure will be a big blow to workers and the community at large as it follows a large number of other mill closures and curtailments in the region over the last two decades which have hit communities hard.
The rally, set to take place Tuesday Jan. 17 at 6:30 p.m. at Canada Games Plaza, coincides with the attendance of BC Premier David Eby at a dinner during the annual Northern Resource Forum in Prince George at which he is expected to speak on the government’s forest policy.
On Thursday, Eby said the government is deploying a crisis response team to Prince George in an effort to support those people and their families who are losing their jobs.
"This is obviously devastating news for those 300 individuals who have lost their jobs for their families, these are people with mortgages, car payments. It’s an incredibly stressful time for them and for the whole community in Prince George."
Rally organizers from Stop the Spray BC supported by Conservation North and Stand Up for the North Committee said the rally will be an opportunity for everyone to have their voices heard.
“Our forests and those who work in the forest industry need local jobs, local decision making, and long term planning using secondary growth forest,” said James Steidle, spokesperson for the rally and member of Stop the Spray BC.
Organizer and local activist Jenn Matthews said the purpose of the rally is to send a message to Premier Eby and the BC government that the province’s forest economy should work for BC workers and communities, as well as for the biodiversity of the forest, not for the benefit of large corporations such as Canfor.
“The solution to the fibre supply “is not to raze every last stick of old growth and decimate the last of our forest habitat. A solution is needed that supports management in degraded (previously logged) areas,” said Michelle Connolly of Conservation North.
“The critical question,” said Peter Ewart of the Stand Up for the North Committee, “is who makes the decisions about the forest resource. Too often, these decisions are made in the boardrooms of globalized corporations at the expense of workers and communities. That needs to be turned around so that workers and communities have more control over their economic future.”
-with files from the Canadian Press