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Western Forest Products' Port Alberni mill closes as company seeks viable path

CANADA (From news reports) -- More than 100 workers in Port Alberni are the latest forest industry employees to face layoffs as Western Forest Products confirms it will not restart its sawmill in that Vancouver Island city.

The Alberni-Pacific Division facility has been closed since last fall, but the curtailment was only expected to last for six months, unless market conditions changed.

Western Forest Products announced that the mill will not restart "in its current configuration" and says a group, including the United Steelworkers and Indigenous partners, will spend the next 90 days seeking viable solutions for the operation.

Western Forest Products operates several mills on Vancouver Island and the Port Alberni facility is the only one facing closure.

A statement from CEO Steven Hofer says the coastal forest sector has a strong future, and Western Forest Products is working to "achieve a long-term sustainable business model in B.C. that evolves with the changing fibre supply, forest policies and global markets."

Canfor Corp. has said lack of woodfibre and weak markets are reasons for the permanent closure of its Chetwynd mill and the pulp line in Prince George, as well as the planned two-year closure and retooling of its Houston operation, potentially affecting as many as 800 jobs at the three facilities.

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