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New $200M sawmill in B.C. being built

3 October 2023
When a B.C. forestry giant like Canfor Corp. announces it plans to spend $200 million to build a new sawmill in Houston, British Columbians can be forgiven for thinking the company means Houston, Texas.

After all, most of the new mills companies like Canfor and West Fraser Timber have bought over the past decade have been in the U.S., notably the U.S. south, which now has more available timber than B.C. does.

But the new lumber mill Canfor plans to build is in Houston, B.C. It will be a rebuild of the existing lumber mill there that it is in the process of shuttering. At the beginning of this year, Canfor announced it would shutter its lumber mill in Houston this year, but said that the site would be redeveloped.

Canfor announced it will build a new “low cost, high efficiency facility” in Houston on the site of the existing mill. It will have a capacity of produce 350 million board feet of lumber annually. “I’m very pleased to be making this announcement in British Columbia, where Canfor has been proudly headquartered for 85 years,” said Canfor CEO Don Kayne.

“This project represents another significant investment by our company to strengthen our diversified operating platform and ensure that we can continue to deliver the high-value products that are in demand by our customers around the globe.”

The news of the new sawmill was welcomed by the B.C. government, which has otherwise governed at a time when there has been a steady stream of announced sawmill and pulp mill closures in B.C.

“There is no question that we are in a period of transition in the forestry sector, and this announcement represents an important step forward,” said B.C. Forestry Minister Bruce Ralston. “I am pleased to see Canfor, a company with deep roots in the province and strong partnerships with local First Nations, make this investment.”

Canfor says vendor and equipment for the rebuild will be finalized in early 2024, and demolition of the old mill to start in the spring. The company expects it will take two to two and half years to build the new sawmill.

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