This is the last ship that docked in Chemainus in the latter part of November 2017. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Shipping at Chemainus sawmill comes to a standstill

WFP moves loading of vessels to Duke Point while it considers a cost analysis

There hasn’t been a ship loading lumber at the Western Forest Products Chemainus sawmill dock since late November last year. That isn’t about to change anytime soon.

People around town have noticed the absence because it’s often a point of interest for tourists and locals to watch the ships being loaded.

“We normally would have a ship every month, sometimes two,” pointed out plant chairman Randy Robertson. “Five to eight million feet per month would be loaded onto the ships. It is now being loaded at Duke Point. At this point we don’t know whether they will be coming back to Chemainus. The company hasn’t told us either way.”

The Courier contacted WFP for an explanation and received the following reply from Rick Forgaard, vice president, manufacturing.

“We have been using the dock to ship lumber from our other Vancouver Island mills, only a small fraction of the lumber produced at the Chemainus sawmill was actually shipped off that dock,” read the statement. “Our company is seeking to increase the amount of lumber that is manufactured on the coast by directing B.C. logs to sawmills as opposed to log exports. As we increase lumber production, Western is exploring all options to improve the reliability and efficient delivery of products to our international customers.”

Robertson pointed out it must be costing WFP money to ship from Duke Point since it owns the docks at Chemainus.

“The company has not shared that information with us,” he indicated. “This started as a concern, from the company, that people might not be willing to work overtime to load the December ship because the company had just laid off 25 people. The hourly workers wanted to look at ways to get some of those guys back to work rather then working overtime.”

The company expressed its concerns with the December ship because of its year-end numbers and it never came here, starting the relocation to Duke Point.

“Since then we have been told they are now doing a cost analysis to see what is more cost efficient,” Robertson indicated. “Not having the ship does reduce our manning by a couple of positions as well.”

Besides the layoffs, numerous employee resignations and terminations during a period of seemingly low morale at the mill have resulted in a worker shortage and some new hirings from a recent job fair in Nanaimo.

Robertson said mill general manager Clayton Storey expressed an interest in starting discussions a month ago about bringing vessels back into Chemainus. The cost analysis will supposedly determine whether it’s better to load at Chemainus or somewhere else.

The ships have long been a big part of the Chemainus mill and “it’s strange not to see them anymore,” Robertson conceded.

In the meantime, Jordan Long is the new manager at the mill.

Just Posted

Ladysmith scooter crash leaves local man with critical injuries

RCMP said a truck was making a left-hand turn when it collided with the scooter travelling through the intersection

Canada Summer Jobs funding creates 26 positions for Ladysmith youth

Youth employment in town is getting a boost from the federal government… Continue reading

UPDATED: Island Health warns of overdose spike in Cowichan over past 48 hours

A spike in overdoses in the Cowichan Valley has Island Health officials… Continue reading

Ladysmith printmakers hold inaugural show at gallery

Momentum Press to feature over 100 traditional and contemporary prints

Lack of security: why Vancouver Island food production is on the decline

Big Read: agriculture a big, expensive commitment as advocates push to make us more food secure

Winnipeg’s JP Hoe performs in Ladysmith

Six-time Western Canada Music Award nominee and Winnipeg native JP Hoe performed… Continue reading

Doctor sees healing power in psychedelic plant as Peru investigates death of B.C. man

Peru’s attorney general has ordered the arrest of two suspects in the killing of 41-year-old Sebastian Woodroffe

Toronto police officer ‘gave himself the space and time’ in van attack

Footage shows officer standing up, turning off his siren and talking clearly to the suspect

$1.18 to $1.58 a litre: Are you paying the most for gas in B.C.?

Gas prices across B.C. vary, with lowest in Vernon and highest in – you guessed it – Metro Vancouver

Inquest set 10 years after B.C. woman shot, left to die

Lisa Dudley, and her partner, Guthrie McKay were shot in their Mission home in September 2008

B.C. hockey team to retire Humboldt Bronco victim’s number

BCHL’s Surrey Eagles to retire Jaxon Joseph’s No. 10 in light of bus tragedy

B.C. Hells Angels invited to rally by anti-SOGI organizer

The Culture Guard group has helped Hells Angels in the past, said its executive director.

B.C. bill aims to keep Indigenous kids in communities, out of care

Changes to Child, Family and Community Service Act could connect MCFD, Indigenous communities

Condo contract rules target B.C. property flippers

Regulations to prevent property transfer tax evasion

Most Read