Hampton Lumber on track. (Black Press Media file photo)

Hampton Lumber laying foundation for Fort St. James sawmill

The company CEO claims work on track for a 2022 completion

Hampton Lumber is on track with their sawmill rebuild in Fort St. James, despite rumours that the company is planning on delaying the construction.

“None of that is true; nothing has really changed with the plans for the mill or the dates; we have said it is going to be approximately two thirds of the size of Babine mill and that’s how it will be,” said Steve Zika, the CEO of Hampton.

The Oregon-based Hampton Lumber, which also owns the Babine and Decker Lake mills in Burns Lake, purchased the Conifex sawmill in Fort St. James for about $39 million and completed the purchase of Conifex Timber’s forest license last year in November. The company representatives then spent some time meeting with the First Nations, the Mayor and the council and people from the government, to explain the company’s process, vision for the mill and what their plans were. Zika also said that the company is basically trying to copy the successful model in Burns Lake, to the mill in Fort St. James.

Upon taking the ownership, Hampton started drawing up plans and commenced their work on engineering and drawings to construct a new sawmill.

“The sawmill that had been there was very large, very old, and it just wasn’t going to be competitive in today’s more challenging environment, so we hired a variety of engineers, and they went over the plans with some of our sawmill people and we designed a sawmill, ordered the equipment there and we have selected our primary contractors to do the mechanical and the electrical,” said Zika adding that the major contractors in Fort St. James are the same ones the company used when they rebuilt the Babine mill.

The lumber company is aiming to build an operating structure for Fort St. James Forest Products similar to the joint venture it has with the Burns Lake Native Development Corporation that owns the Babine and Decker Lake sawmills. However, according to Zika, the sawmill in Fort St. James will mainly be a stud mill which will make lumber upto 10 feet long, as opposed to the dimension mill in Burns Lake which makes lumber upto 20 feet long.

“At this point we are demolishing some of the old mill, taking it down and selling off the pieces and metals. We have started pouring some of the concrete foundation just in the last couple of weeks. We will continue doing that until whenever the snow hits up there mid to late October maybe early November, depending on the weather,” he said.

The company will continue doing some foundation work until winter after which they hope to start significant construction sometime in early spring, depending on when the weather clears.

“We are still expecting to start the mill in late 2022 which is consistent with what we have told not only the community and the local First Nations but also the Government,” said Zika adding that so far there haven’t been any delays due to Covid with respect to their timelines as the work happening in Fort St. James is being done by local contractors.

“As far as bringing in people from other parts of Canada or Europe or United States, that would be helpful eventually when we have equipment coming in from elsewhere. Eventually, yes that’s when we want to be able to bring people in to the community but for now, it hasn’t had any effect,” he said.

Zika also explained that when getting the license, part of the deal was the commitment the company made to the locals and the government about the timeline and assured that the company was committed on following through with that.

“We are excited about it; the lumber market is good right now and I wish the mill was up already,” he said.


Priyanka Ketkar
Multimedia journalist
@PriyankaKetkar

priyanka.ketkar@ldnews.net


Like us on Facebook and follows us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

“We have to make a call out to address this now so our people don’t have to feel fearful,” said Tribal Chief Mina Holmes. (Carrier Sekani Tribal Council Facebook photo)
Carrier Sekani Tribal Council seeks Indigenous-led task force in northern B.C. hospitals

Request made in an open letter to federal minister Carolyn Bennett

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

Submitted
BC VOTES 2020: John Rustad re-elected in Nechako Lakes riding

The result is based on preliminary vote count and the final results will be available after Nov.6

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 to win the baseball World Series in Game 6 Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
L.A. Dodgers beat Rays 3-1 to win 1st World Series title since 1988

National League champs claim crown in six games

Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July. (Langley Advance Times files)
Child’s body cold, no pulse: Off-duty cop testifies in Langley mother’s murder trial

The seven-year-old girl’s mother faces a first-degree murder charge

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Tyrell Giroux was arrested by Williams Lake RCMP on Sunday, Oct. 25. (Facebook video screenshot)
Tsilhqot’in leaders call for suspension of officers seen in controversial Williams Lake arrest

Disturbing video demands an immediate, independent investigation, says TNG

People march during a climate strike in Montreal, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Judge rejects 15 youths’ climate change lawsuit against Canadian government

Justice Michael Manson has granted the government’s motion to strike the plaintiffs’ claim

A woman walks through check in at WestJet at Pearson International airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Strong support for pre-flight COVID testing ahead of upcoming WestJet trial: YVR

Airport is partnering with UBC, which is helping choose the method of pre-flight testing

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau says pandemic ‘really sucks,’ and that Christmas gatherings are up in the air

The prime minister encouraged residents to continue to follow the advice of local health authorities

The Williams Lake Indian Band is stipulating no-go zones for mushroom picking in areas burned by last summer’s wildfires. 100 Mile Free Press photo
Who controls mushroom harvesting on Indigenous lands?

‘We don’t necessarily know where the mushrooms grow, how old the stands need to be, those types of things.’

Most Read