The Flavelle sawmill in Port Moody is closing permanently.
The sawmill’s owner, AP Group, made the announcement Monday evening.
Surinder Ghog, the CEO of AP Group, blamed “disproportionately high property taxes” for the closure, which affects 70 employees. In 2019, the mill’s tax bill went up by half a million dollars — from $1.6 million in 2018 to $2.4 million.
That prompted a warning from the company's vice president of real estate, Bruce Gibson, who told Port Moody council last year an 11% increase in the tax burden borne by the city's three major industrial properties — Flavelle, Petro-Canada/Suncor, and Reichold Chemicals, could be "problematic." He said it could cost jobs.
The city’s general manager of finance and technology, Paul Rockwood, said at the time the increase was implemented to cover any potential shortfall because of an appeal that had been filed by Petro-Canada over a nearly 87% increase in the assessed value of its 359.8-acre property on Glenayre Drive.
“It is now evident that there is no constructive path forward for this mill,” Ghog said Monday of the facility that has operated on Port Moody’s waterfront for 115 years. AP Group purchased the mill in 2000 after it was closed in 1998 by Interfor, which had owned the mill since 1995.
AP Group is also in the early stages of a redevelopment plan that would transform the 34-acre industrial property into a high-density mixed-use neighbourhood that could include homes for up to 7,000 residents and jobs for more 1,100 people.
In 2018, Port Moody council adopted an amendment to the city’s official community plan for the property to pave the way for its redevelopment.
The company said it will shift Flavelle’s current production of about 40 million board feet annually to its other operations, which includes mills in Surrey, Merritt and Kamloops, once the permanent shutdown is completed by the end of October.
“The sawmill shares a special bond with the community,” Ghog said. "We are grateful to all those that made Flavelle a special place."
More to come