Second shift at Merritt mill sending 50 people back to work | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Second shift at Merritt mill sending 50 people back to work

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December 16, 2019 - 3:18 PM

The addition of a second shift to a mill in Merritt will add 50 jobs to the community hard hit by the downturn in the forestry sector.

Aspen Planers Ltd. in Merritt will add a second shift after obtaining new timber from the recently closed Vavenby sawmill and through a forest fire mitigation program, according to a City of Merritt media release.

The timber acquisition will allow the company to open up a temporary second shift for 50 people, which is set to last until the spring of 2020.

In June of this year, Aspen Planers Ltd. reduced the number of shifts at the Merritt mill from two a day to one.

The 50 temporary positions that are now available will be primarily given to the workers who were laid off during the summer. Since some of the workers laid off have found other employment or retired, there will also be some opportunity for new hires.

“It is great to hear our people are going back to work,” Merritt Mayor Linda Brown says in the release. “The lack of access to logs with a long-term source of fibre for the mill, increased log costs and the weakening lumber market are issues we need to still address though. The return of the 50 jobs in the community is a good thing and especially right before Christmas.”

The City of Merritt will continue to work on revitalizing the forestry sector, and Brown notes there is still much to be done to get operations back up.   

“This return of the second shift at Aspen Planers is a good start but is not the full long-term solution. Our local loggers are still out of work and our logging contractors need support to help get them back to work," Brown says.

"The timber allocation remains the same as it previously was, and we are advocating the Province of B.C. to review the current stumpage rates. During our recent meetings at (Union of B.C. Municipalities) with the Ministry, city council discussed this alongside building a community forest tenure with our local partners here in the Nicola Valley.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Wheeler or call (250) 819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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