PROVINCIAL FORESTS minister Pat Bell remains optimistic a wood processing facility of some kind will open in the region.
Speaking about the state of the forest industry, Bell said he had a meeting recently with an interested group.
“They are very serious about the region,” he said.
As well, he said his officials continue to meet with other companies.
In an otherwise upbeat report indicating sales and exports of wood products across B.C. were on the rise, Bell acknowledged that the northwest is without any processing facilities.
The last facility, West Fraser’s Eurocan pulp and paper mill in Kitimat, closed in February putting more than 500 people out of work.
It is now being dismantled after failed attempts to either sell it to an employee group or to someone else.
But Bell said that facility was no longer suitable for the area and that its combination of a pulp operation and liner board wasn’t viable.
“If it was just a pulp mill it could be sold today and would be operating today,” he said.
West Fraser is also taking expressions of interest on its mothballed Skeena Sawmills sawmill in Terrace.
Bell’s not surprised it isn’t operating either, saying it is an old mill and not suited for the kind of second growth species which could be fed through it.
“It would cost as much to modernize it as to build a new mill,” said Bell.