Wood at one of the West Fraser mills. (Submitted photo)

Wood at one of the West Fraser mills. (Submitted photo)

One year after mill closures 100 Mile House still strong say local leaders

‘One thing this community is very good at is we’re very resilient’

With all that’s gone on in 2020 so far, which we’re only halfway through, one would be forgiven if they didn’t realize it’s been about a year now since the announced closure of West Fraser Chasm Mill and the announced indefinite suspension at the 100 Mile Norbord Mill.

The 2017 Wildfires and the mill closures have put a strain on the 100 Mile economy made only worse by the COVID-19 shutdowns. While 100 Mile House and B.C. as a whole have largely been able to flatten the curve of the virus’ infection rate and even drive it down it’s a hit many local businesses can ill afford, which is why many are encouraging the community to shop and support local now more than ever.

One of these voices is Mayor Mitch Campsall who, along with council, is working to try and bring new business and industry to 100 Mile House. The mill closures have been hard especially on families, Campsall said, and his heart goes out to those whose lives have been totally disrupted by them.

“One thing this community is very good at is we’re very resilient and we’re working hard to relieve some of those issues (families face),” Campsall said. “The first industry will never be the same, we are working together with my staff and council to get other industries to come here. COVID has definitely not been any help this year to add to what (hardships) have already been there and we’ve had a rough year, no doubt about it.”

Despite everything that’s been thrown at 100 Mile in recent years, Campsall says the community does not lie down and neither does he or his team. He intends to help bring the community back and get the projects that COVID-19 slowed down back on track, which he hopes will be announced within the next year or so.

While they do have businesses and industries interested in investing in 100 Mile, Campsall said their partners have requested he not give any details until their plans are closer to fruition. He was able to say he’s working with an aspect of the forest industry interested in coming to 100 Mile House that is different from what the community has ever had.

“Right now our small businesses, the resorts in our area are hurting. It is time to definitely shop local and use our local businesses and resorts. Camp local we have some of the best resorts in B.C.,” Campsall said. “If you’ve never gone fishing we have some of the best fishing across B.C. and our resorts would be more than happy to outfit you. This year is a year to be local and do everything you can local.”

Campsall wanted to reiterate that the District of 100 Mile House is working diligently with businesses big and small and will talk with anyone who knocks on their door. He’d like to thank the community for continuing to work together during these trying times and encourages everyone to continue to help those who need it in the community.

MLA Donna Barnett agreed that the impact of the mill closures have been substantial as there have been quite a few people who have had to move on to other communities for work, either taking their families with them or leaving them here to commute. Many of the younger loggers and forest workers moved on to places like Alberta, Barnett said, where there was little to no slowdown in the industry.

“Of course what that does is takes your young families out of the community and really and truly we need young people, some of us with grey hair need to step back and let the younger community take over,” Barnett said.

Despite the challenges, overall she thinks the community has done quite well over the last year. The trend of retirees moving to the area has continued and their purchases of property have kept prices at a reasonable rate, in Barnett’s opinion.

Next year will be the time when the area sees the true impact of the closures, Barnett said, as unemployment insurance and job training programs help soften the blow. She does know there are plans in the work to begin doing something with the junk-wood in the area but none of these projects have yet been finalized.

When asked if she sees mills reopening Barnett said she’s more concerned the trend is moving in the opposite direction. If you look at the world as it is today, especially the American market and the price of doing business, she worries that the B.C. market can’t compete. She hopes in the future that some of the Cariboo-Chilcotin’s remaining mineral deposits are developed into a mine in the next decade or two as a possible source of jobs and revenue.

“The future is uncertain throughout the whole country, throughout Canada, British Colombia and certainly in the Cariboo Chilcotin. Land use issues and reconciliation… create a real air of uncertainty and we can’t ignore the issues, we have to deal with them. The best way you can have some certainty is to get everyone at the table and resolve the issues,” Barnett said.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

South Cariboo Recreation Centre. Jen Blyth photo
CRD to apply for grant to install high-def cameras, audio at ice arenas for streaming

The cost of the project is estimated at $250,000 for installation at all three recreation facilities

A 17-year-old snowmobiler used his backcountry survival sense in preparation to spend the night on the mountain near 100 Mile House Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021 after getting lost. (South Cariboo Search and Rescue Facebook photo)
Teen praised for backcountry survival skills after getting lost in South Cariboo mountains

“This young man did everything right after things went wrong.”

BC Emergency Health Services has deployed the Major Incident Response Team (MIRRT) as COVID-19 positive cases rise in the Williams Lake region. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
B.C.’s rapid response paramedics deployed to Williams Lake as COVID-19 cases climb

BC Emergency Health Services has sent a Major Incident Rapid Response Team to the lakecity

Interior Health update. File photo.
86 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

The new deaths are from Heritage Square, a long-term care facility in Vernon

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

Nurses collect samples from a patient in a COVID suspect room in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
5 British Columbians under 20 years old battled COVID-19 in ICU in recent weeks

Overall hospitalizations have fallen but young people battling the virus in hospital has increased

Canada released proposed regulations Jan. 2 for the fisheries minister to maintain Canada’s major fish stocks at sustainable levels and recover those at risk. (File photo)
New laws would cement DFO accountability to depleted fish stocks

Three B.C. salmon stocks first in line for priority attention under proposed regulations

Trees destroyed a Shoreacres home during a wind storm Jan. 13, 2021. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay woman flees just before tree crushes house

Pamala DeRosa is thankful to be alive

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Gin, one of the Kantymirs’ two sheep. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
Sheep start up ATV, sit in cars and go for walks in Salmon Arm

Until they bought two sheep, Ken and Karleen Kantymir didin’t realize just how social the animals are

Heather Lucier, a pastor at Kelowna Harvest Fellowship, speaks to an RCMP officer outside of Harvest Ministries on Sunday, Jan. 10. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Kelowna church fined 2nd time for violating public health order

Harvest Ministries in Kelowna has previously said they will fight the tickets in court

Powell River-Sunshine Coast MLA Nicholas Simons was appointed to the NDP cabinet as minister of social development and poverty reduction after the October 2020 B.C. election. (Hansard TV)
B.C. job training fund increased for developmentally disabled

COVID-19 has affected 1,100 ‘precariously employed’ people

B.C. driver’s licence and identity cards incorporate medical services, but the passport option for land crossings is being phased out. (B.C. government)
B.C. abandons border ID cards built into driver’s licence

$35 option costing ICBC millions as demand dwindles

Most Read