Skeena Sawmills in Terrace on July 3, 2020. The sawmill is closed this week due to a lack of logs in its yard, but the company expects to open again next week. (Black Press Media file photo)

Skeena Sawmills in Terrace on July 3, 2020. The sawmill is closed this week due to a lack of logs in its yard, but the company expects to open again next week. (Black Press Media file photo)

Multiple challenges force Terrace sawmill closure

Skeena Sawmills does not have enough logs to keep operating

Skeena Sawmills has closed its Terrace sawmill this week, citing a list of problems in obtaining enough logs in its yard to justify operating.

It does plan on re-opening next week once it builds up its inventory, company official Roger Keery says.

“We have had problems getting logs due to fire restrictions during the summer, rain, road washouts, and now snow,” said Keery in a Nov. 23 email.

“Going back to the second quarter of 2021, we have never been able to build an adequate log inventory to maintain production through these interruptions.”

Compounding the problem is a limited number of contractors who themselves have troubles hiring and keeping employees in the COVID era, Keery continued.

“This is particularly true of truck drivers and this has limited their capacity to deliver wood. Keeping ahead of mill consumption has been a challenge all year,” he said.

“We lost more than a month of our chip production program this fall because of a shortage of chip truck drivers and now its logging truck drivers. This has caused ongoing difficultly in meeting our log production budget.”

The mill’s sister company, next door pellet-producing Skeena Bioenergy is also being threatened with closure.

Last week’s massive rain-caused flooding in southern B.C. which washed out rail tracks and bridges is affecting its ability to ship out its product.

“Our wood pellets, as at time of writing, cannot ship to Vancouver so as we run out of railcars, that operation will be forced to close as well,” said Keery.

“The positive side of this is that product is still moving through Prince Rupert, albeit slowly, and the port has been very supportive of our business.”