For some, it's a prime piece of real estate ripe for development, but for others the Flavelle sawmill in Port Moody represents a paycheque and one of the last vestiges of the city's lumber roots.
And the mill's future as a viable business was spun further into doubt after David Gray of Mill and Timber Products recently stepped down from a timber committee, expressing his concern for how long the decades-old mill could stay open.
Gray, who was a member of the province's Timber Export Advisory Committee, stepped down last month, citing his opposition to government policy related to the export of raw logs.
He said the province is heading in the wrong direction, arguing policy is leading to fewer logs being available for the domestic industry.
More specifically, Gray said Flavelle is a cedar sawmill and there isn't enough cedar available to keep it running.
"It may be too late for Flavelle, but it's not too late to speak out about this policy," he told The NOW.
"We've hung in there as long as we can, but the reality is the mill site will become something else in the future, so we're looking at what that something else can be."
Currently, the mill on Murray Street has about 80 employees running less than one shift.
Though Gray expressed some concern about the mill's fate, he also said the company intends to do what it can to keep the business going for as long as it can.
But the NDP quickly seized on Gray's departure from the timber committee.
Port Moody-Coquitlam MLA Joe Trasolini argued the Liberal government's direction has been to encourage more exports even as mills are begging for fibre.
He said before logs are exported, there should be enough logs for mills for local manufacturing.
"As the manager of the public resource, the government should have its first priority to ensure B.C. logs create B.C. jobs," Trasolini said.
If the Flavelle mill does eventually close, the NDP MLA said it would be a blow to Port Moody, not only in the loss of jobs but to the city's tax base.
In 2011, the city collected $1.3 million in tax revenue from the mill.
More than 5.5 million cubic metres of raw logs were exported from B.C. in 2011.
In January, the province announced it would raise the allowable timber cut on the coast by 500,000 cubic metres and raise export fees by up to 20 per cent.
Coquitlam-Burke Mountain MLA Doug Horne said it's a balance
between keeping jobs in the bush and in the mills.
"It's not just a situation where that log being shipped offshore is necessarily reducing a job in a mill in British Columbia," he said.
"Quite frankly, in many circumstances the log being shipped offshore is actually creating a job in the bush that might not have existed if that market wasn't there."
He said part of the difficulty in the equation is the logs are fetching three to four times the amount when sold offshore as compared to being sold to a mill locally.
Horne also noted forestry companies aren't harvesting the allowable cut in the first place, in part because of the depressed lumber market in the U.S.
While the mill's owners are working to keep the operation running, they're also taking part in the City of Port Moody's official community plan process.
Mayor Mike Clay said he wants to keep jobs in the city, but suggested the mill is not a high-density job provider.
With the company's aspirations to redevelop the land, the mayor said the best outcome would be a development that includes commercial or light industrial, and not just converting employment land to residential property.
"That would be quite a problem I think for the city," he said, adding almost every scenario for the land has been bandied about, including a marina and a casino.
Clay said the mill's closure would be a hit to city coffers, but he's certain future use of the land would generate more tax revenue than it does currently.