By Alex Rinfret–Weyerhaeuser Co. Ltd. will be shutting down its Juskatla operations for six to eight weeks later this year, because the company doesn’t have enough timber approved for harvesting.
Unit manager Ray Lorenzo said the delay in approvals is due to the fact that the Council of the Haida Nation must approve every volume of timber before it can be logged. The system is new to everyone, Mr. Lorenzo said, and is still being worked out.
Mr. Lorenzo said Weyerhaeuser needs a year’s worth of timber already approved in order to operate steadily and efficiently. At the moment, it only has about five months worth approved.
The company should know by next week exactly when the shutdown will take place, he said.
“I wouldn’t say it’s unusual, it’s happened before,” he added.
The uncertainty is creating problems for, among others, the village of Port Clements. Port council members met recently with Weyerhaeuser, the CHN, and the Ministry of Forests before preparing the village’s budget, in order to try and understand what the future will bring, said councillor Gerry Johnson.
“From the village’s standpoint, we intend to get a lot more involved,” Mr. Johnson said. “And we’ve had open doors with everyone we’ve met with so far, and good candid discussions.”
Most of the village’s 500 or so residents work for Weyerhaeuser or its contractor, Edwards and Associates. Several families have moved away in the past few months, because Weyerhaeuser has been transferring workers to its Vancouver Island operations. Even the loss of a few families has a noticeable impact on the village’s budget, Mr. Johnson said.
“We only have about 240 taxable properties,” he said. “Right now, there’s at least a dozen properties for sale. Eight are owned by Weyerhaeuser.”
But Mr. Johnson said there is light at the end of the tunnel. By the end of this year, off-islanders working for Edwards and Associates will no longer receive a subsidy to cover their lodging while they work here. That means most will either quit or move here permanently.
“The people that come in are going to want to buy homes here,” Mr. Johnson said.
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