Wood runs out for Ardew
A lack of timber is blamed for the slated Jan. 11 closure of Ardew Wood Products Ltd., marking the end of another long-established resources business in Merritt.
Owner of the family-operated business Erik Norgaard said limited resources including timber have caused the company to shut down after 47 years.
“Many of the [shortages] are out of our control,” he said in an email. “This was a very difficult conclusion to come to.”
About 55 employees were handed notices saying the last logs would be processed at the mill in January.
Merritt Mayor Susan Roline said spinoff businesses throughout town will also suffer.
“They have their logging crews and those they supply wood to,” she said.
The announcement comes just over a week after 80 miners in the Merritt area heard they were out of work when Craigmont Mines closed after over 50 years of business — and when Huldra Silver was temporarily shut down by the Ministry of Energy and Mines because of safety issues during the same week.
But Roline said she isn’t concerned about any death of resource-related employers in the city.
“The mine we knew was shutting down a long time ago, and they were actually running on an extended life,” she said.
As for Ardew: “This isn’t really a surprise. We knew that they were struggling to find wood.
“If we start losing families, that will be difficult.”
The closure’s effects aren’t confined to the mill and its employees. The Upper Nicola Band, Stuwix Resources, Nicola Post and Rail, Pine Ideas and Trace Resources are among contractors that will lose business.
S&R Sawmills Ltd. in Surrey reported its closure in September. Owner Donald Stewart is on record as saying he didn’t have enough logs to keep the mill running.
Neither loggers nor the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations has given a single reason for the lumber decline, though the mountain pine beetle has gouged the supply, causing logging companies to travel farther for quality timber.
A government report from the Special Committee on Timber Supply released in August says up to 70 per cent of marketable timber in the central Interior will be eliminated due to the pine beetle by 2021.
Central 1 Credit Union predicted in 2010 that the pine beetle could eliminate up to 11,000 jobs in 20 years.
Norgaard refused to comment on the precise reason for the closure, what will happen to the property and equipment, and how much production has dropped since the mountain pine beetle and the recession.