By: The Working Forest Staff
VERNON, BC –Tolko Industries is restarting its oriented strand board mill, located near High Prairie, Alberta, in response to improving market conditions.
The mill has been closed since 2008 when North American housing starts fell to a generational low, resulting in a loss of markets for oriented strand board. With markets improving and optimism that housing starts will maintain upward momentum, the company has decided to restart the mill. Production is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2018.
“We’re very happy to get this mill back up and running — it’s good news for our people and for northern Alberta,” commented Brad Thorlakson, president and CEO of Tolko. “We are confident that current improvements in market conditions are sustainable and that customer demand for Tolko oriented strand board products will remain strong.”
He added, “We would like to thank the Government of Alberta and Agriculture and Forestry Minister, Oneil Carlier, for the recent decision to grant a five-year extension to the existing Tolko High Prairie forest management area. This was key to the restart decision.”
When fully operational, the mill will employ approximately 175 people directly, support a contractor logging workforce, and generate many indirect employment opportunities in the community.
Danielle Larivee, MLA for Lesser Slave Lake commented on the restart. “Forestry is a big part of our way of life in Northern Alberta, so it’s great to see that the Tolko mill will be creating jobs and supporting our region once again.”
The mill restart has received strong support from Big Lakes County and the Town of High Prairie, and Tolko recognized and expressed thanks to the local First Nations and Métis Settlements for their involvement and support of the process.
Big Lakes County agreed to a four-year phase-in taxation agreement.
“This is an important announcement for our communities”, commented Chief Robert Grey of the Whitefish First Nation. “The restart of the mill will provide valuable jobs in the area, and create shared responsibilities on forest management and environmental protection on our traditional lands.”
A listing of employment opportunities at the High Prairie mill and other Tolko operations is available at www.tolko.com.
Photo: C. Sander, via Wikimedia Commons