Contractor loses battle with West Fraser

Tahtsa Timber owner Klaus Posselt set up rail line blockade on his property March 16

A Burns Lake contractor has lost his battle with West Fraser over the use of a rail line that travels across his property just off Highway 16 in Houston.

On Tuesday, lawyers for Tahtsa Timber owner Klaus Posselt and the forestry giant were in a Vancouver courtroom after West Fraser applied for a temporary injunction to allow them to use the rail line.

The temporary injunction was granted to West Fraser.

Posselt said he was fed up with being bullied by the forestry company over issues such as logging rates, changing terms of contracts and a general lack of communication.

On March 13, he took matters into his own hands and positioned an excavator over a rail line on his property located just off Highway 16 in Houston. West Fraser does not have an easement to the rail line and had no legal right to it. Because of this, HFP was not able to ship their product out by rail.

“I’m not happy,” Posselt said after returning from the Lower Mainland earlier this week. “I had a legal right to the blockade but they wanted to maintain the status quo because [Houston Forest Products] has been using the line for 40 years.

“Had West Fraser dealt with me fairly and honourably beforehand, this would never have happened,” he said. “It was a little bit of tit for tat.

“I’m hoping they revisit their attitudes or strategies on how they deal with contractors.”

The action was the culmination of years of frustration of dealing with the company, Posselt said.

“Logging is the largest and most continuous business in our community and we’re in service to the big boys,” he said. “They say jump, and we do nothing but ask how high and when. Especially since they announced the [HFP] shutdown, they’ve been telling us how it’s going to be.

“They just run roughshod over everybody in so many ways. These guys are making huge profits and they’re in charge of a public resource.”

The rail line in question is on 65 acres of land purchased by Posselt about a year ago.

Posselt said his intention was to use the property for a new business venture and he believed the rail line would be an asset.

“I bought that property because I wanted rail access but I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to get it because I was told West Fraser owns it,” he said.

“When I investigated it, I discovered there’s no easement on the rail line, so it just belongs to the property owner.”

West Fraser Forest Products did not immediately respond to a request for comment.