Ladysmith sawmill workers see bleak future
Published Monday, July 7, 2008 6:55PM PDT
After 27 years of working at the Ladysmith sawmill, Ken Bohun has been laid off, and he may never return.
He and his wife Laura are about to sell their home and move their four boys because they have no hope that the Western Forest Products mill will ever re-open.
"You live with fear and you live with stress because you have no control over your life," said Laura Bohun.
The family is just another casualty in the worst forestry downturn B.C. has ever experienced.
More than 5,000 forestry industry workers on Vancouver Island are now unemployed. Island communities are hurting.
Rick Jeffrey of the Coast Forest Products Association won't say the coastal industry is dying, but it sure is shrinking.
"I've been in this industry for 25 years and I've never seen it as bad as it is today. When I talk to the old-timers who have been in it a lot longer than me, they've never seen anything like this," said Rick Jeffrey of the Coast Forest Products Association.
The industry has been hit by a perfect storm of issues, including the high Canadian dollar and the near collapse of the U.S. housing market.
The troubles of the present show that there isn't much hope, said Fred Greer, a Nanaimo forest worker.
"I don't really see much of a future here," he said. "I can't be optimistic."
Neither can the Bohun family. Just like the forest industry, they're in survival mode. Their house will soon be up for sale.
"I'm really torn, because the nicer my house looks the more I realize I'm closer to selling it," said Laura Bohun.
"We're that scared, there's no job security in the forest industry right now," she said.
Forestry has always had lows, but it has rebounded. But Bohuns, among others, don't think the future can be that rosy this time.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Jim Beatty