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Will new government program help save the Midway sawmill?

Will a new program announced this week by the provincial government to guarantee fibre to small and medium-sized wood product manufacturers help the Midway sawmill, due to shut down indefinitely in February?

At first blush, it seems likely, especially since Vaagen Fibre cited a shortage of affordable fibre as the chief reason for the closure and the program is intended to address that very issue.

But manager Dan McMaster says it depends whether the government considers them eligible. The release announcing the program said it would open to “accredited value-added secondary manufacturers” who produce “high high-value products, such as mass timber, plywood, veneer, panelling and flooring.”

“This is something we have been fighting for over the last few years,” McMaster said in an email. “At Vaagen we run wildfire burnt wood and small diameter logs to add value and produce 2x4s, but ‘value added’ is often attributed to ‘high value products’ in the end.”

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He said they will just have to await the details.

The program is restricted to facilities with little or no forestry tenure, a criterion that Vaagen meets.

BC Timber Sales will dedicate 10 per cent of its available timber supply to the program for licensees to bid on, with more volume expected to be added later.

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