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Merritt sawmill shuttered amid B.C.'s forestry woes

Industry in 'Terrible State' as Aspen Planers temporarily shuts down mill
Aspen Planers temporarily halts all Merritt operations.

Aspen Planers has temporarily shuttered its Merritt operations due to B.C.'s "collapsing" forestry industry, putting about 100 people out of work.

Due to what AP Group Executive Vice President Bruce Rose calls "market realities,” Aspen Planers' Merritt mill has been offline for more than a month.

Prior to the closure, Aspen ran on a "only a single shift daily basis for much of 2023 and 2024,” Rose said.

"[To] simply put, the whole forest industry in B.C., it's not an exaggeration, it's collapsing and it's just in a terrible state,” said Rose.

"You can see the negative consequences are all over the place in the province, just over the last couple years, forestry jobs have been lost by the thousands.”

According to Rose, the core problem "is that British Columbia is now the highest cost forest products manufacturing in North America.”

"It's very difficult in forestry to get things done in B.C.,” Rose said.

"You've got time delay costs, the log affordability costs here, and the lack of government timber that's put up for auction is making it very difficult.”

Rose said he does not know when Aspen Planers will open again.

"The whole current policy framework that we have, it just doesn't reflect any market realities of the current markets we're in,” said Rose.

"There's going to have to be some changes either in the cost structure or in the lumber market side in terms of pricing before we're in a position to return to local production.”