Western Forest Products announced capital investments totaling approximately $29 million for its British Columbia operations.
The investments are part of the company’s ongoing commitment to supporting value-added manufacturing in coastal British Columbia and growing its value-added wood products business, while continuing to improve competitiveness at long term from Western.
“We are proud to complement our ongoing investments in our manufacturing facilities on Vancouver Island with substantial upgrades that maximize the value of the wood products we process locally. With the increasing use of wood in multi-storey construction as a low-carbon solution, we have invested in considerable research to determine how we can participate in this growth opportunity,” said Joel Fournier, Vice President of Canadian manufacturing, Western Forest Products.
These capital investments represent an increase of $13 million from the $16 million of capital investments discussed in the company’s first quarter 2022 MD&A.
“Adding equipment that allows us to manufacture product lines used in glulam and solid wood construction is an exciting step for our business and our employees as we continue to grow while meeting the needs of our communities and our planet. We are also looking forward to increasing our drying capacity by approximately 72 million board feet, which is an important part of the manufacturing process for higher value wood products,” added Fournier.
Specifically, investments include:
- $12.3 million for a new continuous kiln at the Saltair sawmill in Ladysmith, British Columbia, to increase continuous lumber drying capacity while reducing energy consumption. The sawmill is the largest single chain sawmill on the British Columbia coast after the multi-phase strategic capital investment of more than $42 million undertaken to modernize the sawmill since 2013. The facility has three kilns existing on site for drying wood.
- $7.9 million to the Duke Point mill in Nanaimo, British Columbia, to upgrade the centralized planer facility with new equipment, including a mechanical strength lumber grading machine (” MSR”). The MSR machine provides strict lumber quality control with known strength and stiffness values for lumber used in engineered products including roof trusses, glulam and solid lumber. The sawmill and planer have already been the subject of a multi-phase strategic capital investment of more than $45 million since 2015 to modernize the facility.
- $8.3 million in other capital investments in the company’s BC operations, including new kiln control systems at Saltair’s sawmill and our value-added division in Chemainus, BC, to increase the supply of finished kiln-dried products for customers.
“Western has deep roots in the community and plays an active role in providing important jobs and contributions. This investment confirms the company’s commitment to Nanaimo, and we look forward to our continued partnership for many years to come,” said Kim Smythe, President and CEO of the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce.
Each of these investments will serve to generate additional value from Western wood products. Work on these investment projects is ongoing and is expected to be completed by 2023.
“Investing to modernize Western operations is 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-BC manufacturing and extract more value from every tree harvested,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests.
Western is one of Vancouver Island’s largest private employers with six sawmills and two refurbishment plants, providing 3,500 jobs that support nearly 20 healthy and vibrant communities across the province.
“We are thrilled with this investment in the future of the plant and our community. Western’s manufacturing plant is a powerful economic engine, supporting many workers and their families while generating business and benefits for suppliers and contractors,” said Aaron Stone, Mayor of the Town of Ladysmith.
These operational upgrades build on the company’s significant investment in value-added manufacturing on the British Columbia coast. Since 2013, Western has invested more than $450 million across its operating platform.
“These projects will strengthen our province’s position as a world leader in solid wood and the development of value-added wood products. When we work together to achieve clean growth, we support our StrongerBC economic plan, which helps fill the jobs of tomorrow while building an economy that works for everyone,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation.
Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog added, “We applaud Western’s continued investment in manufacturing wood products from sustainably managed forests. This type of investment helps maintain jobs and build a more prosperous future for the many people in our community and surrounding areas who depend on forestry.