obs, Tourism and Innovation Minister Pat Bell is lauding the opening of British Columbia’s first cross laminated timber plant today, which he said he believes could open up a new market as significant as an emerging lumber market in China.
The $13-million plant in Okanagan Falls will start production with 7.5 million board feet of lumber on one shift, but that could grow into billions of board feet in the next decade, Bell predicted. That kind of aggressive market growth would chart a similar bath in China, where in the past decade, lumber exports have grown from tens of millions of board feet to 2.8 billion board feet in 2010.
Any new, significant new market for lumber would benefit north-central B.C., which until recently, has been reliant on the U.S. housing market, still in the midst of a collapse.
“It opens the market to taller buildings, greater spans, institutional-type sector. And it really competes with the concrete tilt-up construction,” said Bell, the MLA for Prince George-Mackenzie.
The province supported the new plant with a $2.5 million grant, with Ottawa chipping in another $3.2 million. The company, Structurlam, put in $7.5 million.
“In the same way that our glue-laminated beams offer an alternative to steel in long and complex spans, our CrossLam panels provide an alternative to concrete that uses local, renewable resources with compelling structural and environmental advantages,” said Structurlam president Bill Downing.