MIDWAY, BC - The community around Boundary Sawmill, retrieved from the bankruptcy of Pope & Talbot lumber operations, received an award from The Economic Development Association of British Columbia (EDABC) at the British Columbia Economic Summit Awards last week.
Lumber giant Pope & Talbot went bankrupt in 2007 and closed a number of its sawmills, wounding the economy of southern interior British Columbia. Among the worst hit was the Village of Midway, population 650.
"The town refused to see this mill closed forever and worked together with local residents, businesses and Heritage Credit Union to raise the money needed to open the facility," said the EDABC in an announcement of the award.
It's support helped Vaagen Brothers Lumber Co. to restart the sawmill in Midway, BC through a cross-border deal. The Midway mill, vacant for three years, was acquired by Midway, which leased it to Vaagen Brothers, which is running a small-diameter log mill similar to another mill it runs in Colville, WA.
Today the mill employees over 50 people and makes up 40 percent of the local tax base. Less than five years after the initial closure of the Pope & Talbot lumber operations, "The mill is back up and running as a result of community commitment; what has happened in Midway models future possibilities for similar communities challenged by changing economic pressures," says EDABC.
Pope & Talbot, Inc. sold a number of sawmills in 2008, though not all the deals held together. Among the transactions:
Sinar Mas Group purchased the Fort St. James Sawmill for approximately $6 million. Fox Lumber Sales, Inc. agreed to purchase the Midway Sawmill for approximately $750,000. Sawmills in Grand Forks and Castlegar, British Columbia and related timber assets went to International Forest Products Limited (Interfor); its Spearfish, South Dakota sawmill and timber assets went to Neiman Enterprises, Inc. as part of the transaction with Interfor.