Ladysmith and Chemainus WFP mills return to operations

All Western Forest Products mills except Nanaimo are now re-open after a tragic shooting in Nanaimo.

All Western Forest Products (WFP) mills except Nanaimo are now re-open following the tragic shooting in the Harbour City last week.

There are three manufacturing mills in Chemainus and two in Ladysmith and all were closed immediately following the Nanaimo incident which saw two men killed and two more taken to hospital Wednesday, April 30.

However Ladysmith Sawmill, Saltair Sawmill, Chemainus Sawmill, Value Added Reman and South Island Reman all re-opened as of yesterday after being closed for two working days at the end of last week.

“Operations at all mills will commence Monday, May 5, with the exception of the Nanaimo sawmill,” WFP CEO and president Don Demens said in a press release Friday (May 2). “We will have additional security presence at all sites. The safety of our employees has always been, and will continue to be, our highest priority.

“Western is working closely with our colleagues at United Steelworkers Local 1-1937 to review the security of our workplaces and we will make any changes needed to ensure our colleagues are confident in the security of their work environment.”

Workers received pay from WFP while the mills were closed.

“We are grateful for the support we have received from all levels of government, the community and our industry colleagues. We will continue to cooperate fully with authorities throughout this criminal investigation,” wrote Demens.

Fred James McEachern and Michael John Lunn were shot dead in Nanaimo,with Tony Sudar and Earl Kelly being transported to hospital.

“On behalf of the entire Local Union, I would again like to express our sincere condolences and heartfelt thoughts for the families, friends and co-workers of each and every person affected by the tragic and shocking events at the Western Forest Products Mill in Nanaimo,” said a press release from United Steelworkers. “Michael Lunn, the USW plant chairperson and Fred McEachern, the mill superintendent were long-term employees and both well-known and respected within the Union, WFP and their communities. Their loss is heavy on everyone’s hearts and minds.

“At last report, Tony Sudar and Earl Kelly are out of danger and recovering from their wounds in the hospital. We wish them both the speediest of recoveries and again offer any assistance they or their families may need.”

The workers’ union and WFP will be working together to offer counselling sessions to anyone that requires them.

“The Local Union will continue to focus our efforts on working with WFP to ensure that the families, workers and everyone else directly affected in the operation gets the help they need through grief counselling or any other means. Counselling sessions will continue to take place today in Nanaimo and will continue for as long as is needed.”

The union said it is still too early to comment on the motive of the shooting.

Kevin Douglas Addison, a former employee of the Nanaimo mill has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder in connection with the shooting.

Nanaimo RCMP superintendent Mark Fisher would also not speculate on the motive of the shooting.

The incident began in the parking lot of the mill at approximately 7 a.m. April 30 and continued into the offices on-site.

A shotgun was seized from the scene by an emergency team member.

—with files from John McKinley



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