Fort Nelson First Nation discussing purchase of PolarBoard OSB mill with potential buyers

The now-closed Canfor OSB mill in Fort Nelson. Photo by Mike Gilbert

FORT NELSON, B.C. — Fort Nelson First Nation Chief Harrison Dickie has been confirmed to have engaged in talks with a potential buyer of Canfor’s PolarBoard OSB mill.

In its March newsletter, the First Nation’s council stated that Chief Dickie met with members of the Stern Group. The Vancouver-based investment firm was founded 29 years ago by Ronald N. Stern, who has also served on the board of the Vancouver Airport Authority, the Vancouver General Hospital and University of British Columbia Hospital Foundation, and Science World.

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In the newsletter, the First Nation said that the firm was receptive of the First Nation’s Medzih Action Plan to help the region’s caribou populations recover, and is also optimistic about partnering with the First Nation. The newsletter added that discussions are still continuing behind closed doors about the potential purchase of the mill, and that Chief Dickie will give a detailed presentation to the community in mid-April.

Canfor announced that it was closing both the PolarBoard OSB mill and the Takama sawmill in Fort Nelson indefinitely just over ten years ago. The company also holds vast timber rights in the Fort Nelson area, which the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality has said discouraged potential buyers of the mills.

Last October, Forests, Lands, Natural Resources and Rural Development Minister Doug Donaldson said that forest tenures in the area could be made available if a potential buyer of either mill came forward. At that time, Northern Rockies mayor Bill Streeper said that there were two Canadian investors that had surveyed Canfor’s PolarBoard OSB mill in Fort Nelson with the possibility reopening it, however he added that neither Canfor nor the prospective investors said anything about a potential deal at the time. Streeper also travelled to China last fall to speak with another prospective investor, whose primary concern was the availability of obtaining a cut license in the area.

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