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Western Forest Products announces $29 million in upgrades at central Island operations

Projects underway at Saltair, Nanaimo and Chemainus facilities
Western Forest Products announced capital investments totalling $29 million at operations in Saltair, Nanaimo and Chemainus. (Black Press Media file photo)

Western Forest Products announced $29 million in capital projects at its operations on the central Island.

In a press release Wednesday, July 6, the company detailed investments at the Duke Point facility in Nanaimo, the Saltair sawmill and the value-added division in Chemainus.

WFP says it is spending $7.9 million to optimize the planer facility in Nanaimo with new equipment including a lumber grading machine, $12.3 million for a new kiln in Saltair to increase capacity and improve efficiency of lumber drying, and $8.3 million for new kiln control systems in Saltair and Chemainus.

According to the release, the capital investments total $13 million more than what was discussed by the company in the first quarter of 2022. WFP says work on the projects is underway and is expected to be completed by 2023.

Joel Fournier, Western Forest Products’ vice-president of Canadian manufacturing, said in the release that the company has invested in research related to growth opportunities in mass timber construction. He added that the company’s increased drying capacity is an important part of making higher-value wood products.

“We are proud to add to our ongoing investments in our manufacturing facilities on Vancouver Island with substantial upgrades that maximize the value of the wood products we process locally,” Fournier said.

READ ALSO: B.C. investing in future of mass timber with 4 new structures, long-term action plan

Katrine Conroy, B.C. Minister of Forests, added in the release that the upgrades to Western’s operations are “great news” for forestry workers, communities and the industry as a whole.

“These capital investments support our government’s vision to increase innovative, made-in-B.C. manufacturing and get more value out of every tree harvested,” she said.

Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog added in the release that WFP’s investment will help sustain jobs and build prosperity for community members who depend on forestry.

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