BURNS LAKE (NEWS1130) – First Nations communities near Burns Lake say a secure timber supply could be the key to rebuilding the town’s decimated sawmill.

A meeting took place Friday between the six chiefs who are directors in the Burns Lake Native Development Corporation and Forests Minister Pat Bell.

The corporation owned 11 per cent of the now-burned out Babine Forest Products sawmill.

Chief Al Gerow of the Burns Lake Indian Band says only about half of the 2-million cubic metres in the region’s timber supply area is spoken for.

“We are asking for a forest licence for 1.1 million cubic metres of unallocated timber, for ten to twenty years. That would allow co-owner Hampton Affiliates to be able to move closer to a decision to rebuild the sawmill.”

In the meantime, a job fair was held on Friday to help the 250 or so people thrown out of work after the sawmill was destroyed last month. Gerow estimates 400 people turned up.

“The forest industry and mining industry were well-represented. Companies like the Mount Milligan mine, Endako mines, Huckleberry mines. There was a good cross-section of prospective employers,” explains Gerow.  

He says the only drawback with these employers is that unlike the sawmill, they aren’t located in Burns Lake.

The sawmill exploded into a ball of flame last month. Two men were killed.