FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Fort St. John and Taylor Councils coming together to address recent mill closures.
Mayor Lori Ackerman says Fort St. John Council is working with the District of Taylor Council. Both Councils are aware that the closure at the Peace Valley OSB Mill and the temporary curtailment at the Canfor facility in Taylor will affect residents in both communities.
Mayor Ackerman shared that a steering group is being created from both communities, to create a unified strategy. As the Mayor said, “We’ve seen shutdowns in other communities. In Fort St John, we have already considered this risk, we have seen it over the decades.”
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“We are going to look at this in a similar fashion as any other type of emergency. By creating an emergency operations centre, so to speak and bringing in the resources needed to accommodate and manage the impacts of the emergency,” says Ackerman. The City and District of Taylor have already reached out to the Forestry Practices Alliance of Canada, the Health Authority, the School District, the Northern Development Initiative trust for their internship program and the Community Development Institute of UNBC, all groups that have walked other communities through similar economic downturns.
The Mayor expresses that she wants other industries that are operating in the area to recognize and acknowledge, “local hire and local contractors,” with the hopes that laid-off employees get opportunities to transition into one of the other industries.
“We need to ensure our forestry workers completely understand that their Councils are not letting this go and we are not going to let them down,” said the Mayor “Our request to the Ministry this afternoon (June 14th) will really be a transfer of support. We are going to be looking for, in the same way, other communities have done for funding for emergencies.”
“We are going to look at funding for adapting to whatever is going to happen, here to ensure we have the mental health support,” said Mayor Ackerman, “make sure we can soften whatever has happened and hopefully say goodbye to one industry and move to another one with a smooth transition.”
Mayor Ackerman shares a quote her father always taught her, “You will never live long enough to learn everything yourself.” The Mayor hopes that with both Councils working together, they can share the workload.
“There is going to be a lot of conversations about this over the next little while,” she said as they continue to look at supports such as mental health.
“We are not letting this go and not letting them down,” said Mayor Ackerman.