Babine Forest Product Sawmill has a Good Chance of Being Rebuilt
The future of the Babine Forest Products mill is moving forward, after an explosion that has destroyed the mill, killing two and injuring 19 in January.
A final decision on whether or not the mill will be rebuilt will be made later this year.. Hampton has said that the province has committed to action that would help ensure an adequate timber supply for the mill, provided the company formalizes relationships with the area's six First Nations and the community of Burns Lake. Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training Pat Bell says, “6 First Nations, Hampton and the province... figuring out the details behind these license agreements in a way that satisfies everyone’s needs so that's the work we need to do over the next 60 days and I think you got 3 very willing parties here we are all sitting here arm in arm knowing that we have a task here in front of us.”
Steve Zika of Hampton Affiliate says, “It's a solid yes with a subject to or contiguously as the lawyers like to say, that we’ve heard about a lot of these things, they've been recent, they all sound good we just need to see these agreements get in place.”
If a new mill is rebuilt it is going to be about two thirds of the size of the previous mill. Zika explains, “It's going to be smaller than the old one, because we want to make sure and be conservative, the last thing we would want to do is build a huge mill and there was no timber and we lay everyone off a year or two from now, so we've been somewhat conservative and we are going to build a smaller mill and I think that there is a enough timber there for sure.”
Many people were very excited to hear the news of the mill moving forward. Burns Lake Band Chief Al Gerow says, “The whole community was holding its collective breath on whether or not the saw mill will be rebuilt but today we know it will be rebuilt and it's a very exciting day.”
Mill working Darryl Bens explains, “My emotions are mostly positive hearing that they are rebuilding or going forward to be rebuilding but I'll be glad when they make the official record in December.”
Zika says the new mill will be built with high safety standards. “Infrastructure is going to be much better than any of the older mills or any mills operating in the province, so its state of the art and it's up to us as well to put in any processes, training things like that, that make for safety as well... it's not just the equipment. We are taking it very seriously and it will be a mill we are all proud of that keep people safe.”
The final decision is expected to be made on December 3rd of this year and if all goes as planned the mill is expected to be up and running for 2014.