Western Forest Product (WFP) plans to re-open forest operations in Woss this coming spring.
The company, which stopped day-to-day business early this November, has decided that Englewood operations near Woss will now be up and running as soon as March 2019, according to the Nov. 20 presentation given to the Regional District of Mount Waddington (RDMW).
Port Hardy mayor Dennis Dugas immediately requested an update since it is “a big concern for the employees and a big concern for the regional district with regards to where that’s going. He also inquired about “what’s stopping the process from that going forward as far as working with the different groups that are involved.”
“I just wanted an update on where you (WFP) are with that because we know that it has a big effect on the economy on the North Island,” he said.
Shannon Janzen, chief forester at WFP, replied to the mayor, having stated that the forest company “would be curtailing (operations) throughout the winter months.” She then added that the time frame “is essentially the end of the November and a likely startup at the beginning of March.” Licensing for the operation was one of many reasons as to why operations stopped.
“The four-month window I don’t think is unusual,” she said. “Generally, we have weather constraints and that tree farm license is quite difficult to be able to have sufficient roads built so that (WFP) can operate throughout the year. And if you have a disruption in some planning then it gets hard to be able to operate (for) 12 months.”
North Island Forest Operation senior manager Clint Cadwallader stated that “the difference between this shutdown and previous ones, we actually announced (the shutdown) ahead of time.”
“We can deploy our people and our equipment and retain our people across our operations so we have that workforce to go back to on March 15,” he concluded. “That was the idea of announcing it well in advance.” He then pointed out that WFP is “very confident” in starting up next March, but said operations are, in fact, dependant on weather.
“But if we have typical weather, we are positioned for primary hauling to begin March 15,” he said. “Ahead of that, we’ll have road building, falling, yarding which will commence in a staged approach from mid-February through mid-March.”
The decision was made in wake of a tragic incident, a fatal derailment along the Englewood Railway, which occurred in April 2017. The company put a stop to normal operations along the railway as of Nov. 7, 2017, after the tragedy. The Englewood operation was headquartered in Woss.
More than a hundred employees, 127, are now waiting until the chosen dates to return to their jobs.
According to WFP’s Nov. 7 fourth quarterly dividend report, the company “has an annual available harvest of approximately 6 million cubic metres of timber, of which 5.8 million cubic metres is from Crown lands.”