The 18-storey Brock Commons residence at UBC has attracted worldwide attention, and international building codes are being revised to reflect new technology. (Black Press files)

Bright spots ahead for B.C. forest industry in 2019

U.S. moves ahead on tall wood construction regulation

B.C.’s lumber industry went from record high prices to a steep decline in 2018, with B.C. sawmills cutting production as the reduction in Interior timber supply declines in the aftermath of the mountain pine beetle epidemic.

For 2019, the industry is looking for new wood construction technology and Asia demand to make up for continuing trade disputes with the U.S. It’s been a year since the U.S. International Trade Commission declared Canadian imports were harming the U.S. industry, imposing import duties of about 20 per cent on Canadian imports, half of which come from B.C.

And since then President Donald Trump’s trade war with China has led to a drop in U.S. lumber exports as well. A surplus of pine logs in the southern U.S. has added to the lack of Canadian import demand, resulting from a federal incentive program for planting fast-growing trees on private land there.

RELATED: B.C. lumber mills struggle with log shortage, price slump

RELATED: B.C. lumber industry still has high hopes for China

One potential bright spot for U.S. demand is a recommendation from the International Code Council (ICC), recommending building code changes for 2021 that would allow “mass timber” buildings up to 18 floors high, with gypsum wallboard on timber elements for fire protection. That would be twice as high as the current U.S. maximum.

“Mass timber has been capturing the imagination of architects and developers, and the ICC result means they can now turn sketches into reality,” said Robert Glowinski, president of the American Wood Council. “ICC’s rigorous study, testing and voting process now recognizes a strong, low-carbon alternative to traditional tall building materials used by the building and construction industry.”

B.C. got on the world mass timber map in 2016 with the construction of Brock Commons, an 18-storey residence on the University of B.C. campus. It remains the tallest wood structure in North America, but a project in Milwaukee, Wisconsin is looking to take the title for the tallest in the Western Hemisphere with a 21-storey luxury rental tower called Ascent.

B.C. Forest Minister Doug Donaldson led the province’s largest ever industry trade mission to Asia in December, with stops in Korea, Japan and China. Those countries now represent about 30 per cent of B.C.’s lumber export market, and industry leaders say there is more growth potential as wood construction technology improves and the environmental benefits of wood buildings replacing concrete are demonstrated.

The B.C. and Canadian governments co-sponsor with forest companies demonstration projects in all three countries. One of the latest is Gapyeong Canada Village near Seoul, South Korea.

In his “wish list” for 2019, Forest Products Association of Canada CEO Derek Nighbor called for greater pride in the industry.

“Canada’s working forests are a model for the world,” Nighbor said. “Consider the careful planning that envisions horizons beyond 100 years, and our commitment to multiple values including watershed health, wetlands preservation, supporting multiple species of birds, mammals and fish, and mitigating fire risks.”

The association says Canada’s forest industry has reduced its own greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds in 30 years, and has a goal of a further reduction of 30 megatonnes of carbon dioxide per year by 2030.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Occupancy rates remain above capacity in Greater Victoria hospitals

Region’s hospitals have more patients than acute care beds

Saanich mayor signs up for mason bee rental service

Fred Haynes rents mason bee colony from Oyster River beekeeper for his Prospect Lake home

VIDEO: Rare ‘ice circle’ spotted on Kamloops river

An ice circle or ice pan, has formed in the chilly waters just east of the Yellowhead Bridge

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 21

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Uber, Lyft approved for ride-hailing in Lower Mainland

Kater Technologies Inc.’s application was rejected

Investigators in wildfire-torn Australia head to site of B.C. airtanker crash

The B.C. government sends condolences to Port Alberni-owned Coulson Aviation

Former Mountie, sports coach convicted of sex abuse in B.C. granted day parole

Alan Davidson was sentenced to almost six years for abusing seven boys in the late 1970s and early 1990s

VIDEO: Person in wheelchair narrowly avoids collision with car in Kelowna

There were no injuries in the scary looking near-accident last week in Rutland

Here’s what Canada is doing to stop the coronavirus from getting in

Health officials are monitoring multiple possible cases in Canada

B.C. still struggling to control non-resident medical care fraud

Unpaid bills, out-of-province claimants a costly legacy of MSP

Most Read