The timber supply arrangements required co-operation between the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako, the Village of Burns Lake and the six First Nations in the area.
"To the board, the question was 'Are the groups committed to working together'?" said Zika.
"In a world where the pine beetle has taken a lot of the timber supply, you really have to have everybody working together to be successful. It's a risk, but we're comfortable taking it based on the level of support we've seen in the community," he said.
Some foundation work has already been completed at the mill site. New construction is expected to begin by the end of March and the mill should be ready to take timber by early 2014.
"They're pouring the slab today," said Zika. "You'll see a limited amount of activity over the next few months, but you'll see things really pick up at the end of March. We're doing detailed engineering and lining up contractors so that when the weather breaks we'll be ready to go."
The recent decision by WorkSafe BC to forward the findings of workplace safety act violations in its investigation to Crown Counsel for consideration was not taken in a positive light by the hampton board of directors.
"We would like to know what the report says," said Zika. "We'd like to have definitive answers but we don't yet."
Although the details of that report remain secret, Hampton is confident that the new mill will meet the most modern standards of mill safety.
"We're going to put systems in place that ensure the sawmill to be as safe as we can possibly make it," said Hampton.
Hampton Affiliates currently operates the Decker Lake specialty saw mill in Burns Lake, as well as six other mills in the U.S.
"We have worked diligently on improving clean-up routines and dust reduction at our Decker Lake sawmill and at Hampton's other mills in the U.S.," said Zika. "The company is also actively participating with Worksafe and the industry task force, on combustion risks and will incorporate these findings into a new Babine sawmill."
In the days that followed the announcement questions were asked regarding how the new mill would affect timber supply for other mills in the region.
Nechako Lakes member of legislative assembly John Rustad expressed confidence that there was enough timber supply to go around, citing positive results turning up in the recent Quesnel timber supply report. He expects the total net loss of timber supply from the Lakes Timber Supply Area (TSA) to other mills in the region to be around 50 or 60 thousand cubic metres per year.
To the question of whether there was enough wood to keep all the mills going between Vanderhoof and Smithers, Rustad said that people have to understand that it was volume from marginally economic stands that tipped the timber supply in favour of a mill rebuild in Burns Lake, and that same timber supply is available across the region, not only in the Lakes TSA.
“The supply across the Hwy. 16 corridor is going to be tight, but I’m reasonable comfortable with saying that I think there’s enough wood to keep the mills open,” he said. “There will be more competition for logs, but competition is not a bad thing.”