by Andru McCracken
It’s been a dark decade for mill closures in the Robson Valley with two big mills shuttered more than 10 years ago, but Jason Alexander of Cedar Valley Specialty Cuts has been picking up the pieces – literally.
Over the years Alexander purchased equipment from three separate mills, including McBride Forest Industries, Slocan Valemount, and TRC in McBride. He’s brought it all together to create something new.
Alexander makes shake blocks,cedar shingles and mulch and employs roughly six people full time. He brought his mill to Valemount in 2000 and had struggled over the years with wood supply, but since the Valemount Community Forest acquired a new license his operation has been growing.
Currently local millwright Robert Johnson is overseeing the construction of a post and rail mill which Alexander says will employ another six people.
Last year he moved his operations to the community forest industrial site at Cedarside, where Valemount’s old dimensional lumber mill used to operate.
Craig Pryor, manager of the Valemount Community Forest said they have leased land to Cedar Valley and have set up a 20 year fibre agreement.
“This does not supply his mill fully with cedar but gives him a base to start,” said Pryor.
Pryor said Valemount is in a better position than McBride to support a post and rail mill, because there hasn’t been a lot of harvesting of cedar to date.
“We are just starting to harvest cedar out of this area and the area has never been targeted for large-diameter cedar. We are only obligated under the fibre agreement to supply 5000m3 of cedar, so the scale is much smaller than McBride.”
Pryor said the relationship is a good one for the community forest
“Harvesting the cedar … takes pressure off our straight white wood stands,” he said. “This helps us utilize our wood base in a much more balanced way.”
When asked about the timeline to start the post and rail operation, Alexander doesn’t give specifics. He admits he’s green when it comes to that side of things.
“I’ve never made a post in my life,” said Alexander.
Fortunately for Alexander, the valley has a lot of experienced operators and he encourages folks to send their resumes him.