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MacKenzie: Mill town in crisis

Date published : October 15, 2009 - Mackenzie, British Columbia

One of thousands who’ve lost jobs in Canada’s forestry sector, Carl watches as another B.C. mill goes quiet.
 
A mill town in crisis

A small town located in the Northern Rocky Mountain Trench, in British Columbia’s scenic interior, MacKenzie was established in 1966. Named after the explorer Alexander Mackenzie, who camped nearby while on his way to the Pacific in 1793, MacKenzie was a pre-planned “instant town” and owes its existence to the forestry industry.

But the recent collapse of the US housing market, coupled with the decline in newspaper circulation and a high Canadian dollar, has taken a heavy toll on the local economy. As of October 2009, three out of five mills that once employed local residents are not in operation.

Some facts & figures

•    In 2001 the town’s population was 5,206.
•    By 2006 the population had dropped to 4,539, a decrease of 12.8%.
•    During the same period, the overall population of British Columbia  increased by 5.3%, from 3,907,738 to 4,113,487.
•    Between October 2007 and October 2009, about 1600 local jobs were lost.
•    The USA is the main market by far for Canadian forestry products, and in 2009, housing starts in the USA had dropped 75% from their 2006 peak, driving the demand and price for lumber to historic lows.

Do you work in forestry – or live in an area dependent on the industry? Send us a comment on this photo-essay – or a photograph of your own that illustrates the impact of the crisis in
your community.

Sources:
The Canadian Encyclopaedia; The Mackenzie Times; Statistics Canada;  Prince George Citizen, Oct 5, 2009; Forestry Products Association of Canada
 
Reporting and photographs
Brian Howell

Editor
Miguel Raymond

Director-coordinator
Hélène Choquette


© 2009 NFB – All rights reserved
 
 

Comments(1)

NFB photo essay on Mackenzie, BC

 

By The Left Coast - Date published: December 8, 2009 - Vancouver, British Columbia

Here's an excerpt from a longer article published in theleftcoast.ca: "There is one photo essay in particular that took a good long tug at my heart strings, it is about the recession’s impact on the mill town of Mackenzie, BC. A few years ago I had the opportunity to live and work in Prince George and up the west coast of the Williston Lake. The only work there is to do in and around...

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