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

Central Westcoast Forest Society is searching for wood and trees

Scrap wood will be used to help rebuild the local salmon populations near Tofino and Ucluelet.

UPDATED: Tofino-Ucluelet highway reopens after bridge installed earlier than expected

Hwy. 4 now open to all vehicles, including delivery trucks and RVs

UPDATED: Ucluelet and Tofino mayors call for “calmness” and “empathy” as highway closure cuts communities off from supplies

Ministry of transportation expects to open road for “essential travel only” from noon-8 p.m. Friday.

Tofino shakes up emergency notification service

“You can download maps and it has more functionality.”

Officials reaching out to those in contact with Canada’s first coronavirus patient

The illness has sickened at least 1,975 people and killed 56 in China

Canada’s basketball community mourns Kobe Bryant after helicopter crash

Bryant was an 18-time NBA all-star who won five championships

‘Devastated’: Fans, celebrities remember Kobe Bryant after his death

Bryant played all of his 20-year career with the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers

Investigation launched after six dead puppies dumped in Richmond hotel parking lot

RAPS reminds people they can always give up puppies they can’t take care of

Canadian Lunar New Year celebrations dampened by coronavirus worries

But Health Minister Patty Hajdu said today that the risk of infection is low

B.C. VIEWS: New coronavirus outbreak an important reminder

Walking the line between cautious and alarmist

Kobe Bryant, daughter killed in California helicopter crash

Bryant entered the NBA draft straight out of high school in 1996

Risk of coronavirus low in B.C. as first case emerges in Toronto: officials

There have been no confirmed cases of the virus in B.C.

Most Read