Grand Forks faces uncertain future
November 20, 2007 By Pulp & Paper Canada
Grand Forks, BC — Two major employers in this town in BC’s southern interior have been hit hard by the forestry cr…
Grand Forks, BC — Two major employers in this town in BC’s southern interior have been hit hard by the forestry crisis, and residents are concerned about the future, Stephanie Levitz of the Canadian Press reported recently in the Prince Albert Daily Herald. The B.C. forestry industry has suffered from the Canada-U.S. softwood lumber trade dispute, the ravages of the pine beetle, the crash of the U.S. housing market and the soaring Canadian dollar, she notes. The United Steelworkers Union, which represents B.C. forestry workers, estimates that since 2000 more than 20,000 jobs in the sector have been lost and almost 40 mills have closed.
Pope & Talbot, owner of sawmill plants that employ over 450 in the area, applied for creditor protection in October, causing concern in the town. The Canpar door-core plant employs about 100, and it is slated to close for good in December.
“Our town has weathered the ups and downs of the economy before,” local businessman Bill Ladd told the Herald. “But this time, this is going to be different.” Furniture store owner Bob Smith, 73, told the Herald that his business has dropped about 20% in the last month. “In the last two weeks alone, I’ve had 10, 15 different families phoning wanting to sell me furniture,” he said.
But others are more positive. “For the time being, everybody’s pretty optimistic,” local barber Bob Pfeiffer told the Herald. “We’ll weather the storm.” Brian Taylor, VP of the chamber of commerce and the town’s former mayor told that Herald that retirees will shape the future of Grand Forks. Retirees are attracted by the mild southern BC climate, and create demand for services such as health care. “This is a city in transition, Taylor said. “People are optimistic about what will replace existing jobs.”
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