Conference Board of Canada outlook puts Vancouver near top of municipal economies
British Columbia’s manufacturing and forestry industries should enjoy respectable growth in 2013, a new report from the Conference Board of Canada suggests. The board’s annual Metropolitan Outlook suggests a revitalization of the province’s shipbuilding industry should commence later this year as Vancouver Shipyard completes $200 million worth of infrastructure upgrades needed to accommodate an $8-billion contract to build seven new vessels for the Canadian Coast Guard. Work on two smaller vessels is expected to begin later this year.
“Right now it will be the construction (sector) that benefits,” board economist Greg Sutherland said in an interview. “Then you will see it more in transportation and manufacturing, once the construction finishes.”
The manufacturing sector will also benefit from a recovery in U.S. housing, the primary market for B.C. lumber. The board expects total manufacturing output to rise 3.6 per cent this year and 2.1 per cent in 2014.
However, within a couple of years, the forest sector will face ongoing supply constraints arising from the ongoing pine beetle infestation, the board warns.
“Supplies of salvageable pine beetle-infested wood will start to run out. This is expected to tip the industry into a downturn as it adjusts to the significant reduction of available timber,” the report said. Sutherland said the sector’s short-term prospects are better than many would expect.
“Housing starts in the U.S. have come back. Sometimes you wouldn’t know it if you watched the news but the data does show that they are building again, significantly, south of the border. So that increases the demand for B.C. lumber. But there is definitely a supply constraint because of the beetle, more in the medium term, but it’s coming.”
Overall, the board expects B.C. to achieve 2.7 per cent real GDP growth this year compared to 1.8 per cent in 2012, and then hold at 2.5 to 2.6 per cent per year through 2016.read more
Chuck Norris’s toughness is so legendary, there are hundreds of Chuck Norris jokes on the internet about his strength and fearsomeness. For example:
Winners from the first-ever Built Green BC Awards were announced last weekend and among them was a home from Tofino.
The Eco Rain Forest Retreat, which is also the first Timberframe to get a LEED platinum certificate in Canada, won the “Highest Rated Built Green BC” award. Seven awards were presented to the companies who demonstrated leadership in building environmentally sustainable homes, and John Yap, minister of state for climate change, provided the gala’s welcoming address.
The Tofino home was built by Alpine Timberframe & Design, which is based out of Brackendale, B.C. (between Vancouver and Whistler). The house is about three kilometres from Tofino, near Chesterman Beach. It features low-e argon windows, high efficiency lighting features, an air-tight building envelope and a highly insulated roof system.
Other features include geothermal heating, programmable thermostats, a heat recovery ventilator and the roof harvests 75 per cent of the rainwater and stores up to 1,600 gallons for toilet, laundry, outdoor shower and irrigation use.
The roof also has a conduit and wiring for solar panels and has low volatile organic compounds paint for its solid surface flooring. With all of the sustainable upgrades to the home, it has achieved an 86 Energuide energy rating system score.
Built Green is a voluntary program within the industry promoting environmental and sustainable initiatives. There are 300 registered Built Green BC builders in the province with 1,200 within the program.
Since Built Green has been around, about 3,000 homes have been enrolled with a combined reduction in 7,400 tonnes of greenhouse gases each year, or an equivalent of taking 2,200 cars off the road.
For more information about Built Green visit www.builtgreencanada.ca.read more
Perhaps it sounds so obvious we shouldn’t even need to discuss it.
Here in a region still dominated by the forest industry, our city has made the decision to institute an official policy calling for the maximum use of wood in all new city-funded buildings.
At first blush, one may think, “Don’t we do that already?” But a quick mental inventory of civic structures reminds one that our institutional architecture is very much in line with the mainstream; that is, with steel and concrete predominating.
ow the province is trying to buck that trend with its new Use of Wood Act, and the development and certification of six-story woodframe structures for housing. Mainly, they’re trying to export that concept to develop an international appetite for our wood products, particularly our kiln-dried, seismic-certified hemlock from Alberni Pacific Division. Much of that product line has been sold to Japan in market-specific dimensions. For APD workers, the Japanese designations roll off the tongue with frequent practice.
Now, Forest Minister Pat Bell has set his sights on making meaningful inroads in the Chinese market. Meaningful in that, while we currently ship a lot of volume to this burgeoning new market, there’s not a lot of markup. We’ve sent a lot of low-value beetle-kill wood and a lot of loss-leaders to encourage a culture of woodframe construction in key Chinese cities like Shanghai. We’d like to make some real money at it eventually.
The stakes are huge. The Chinese plan to build billions of dollars worth of new housing over the next decade or so, as the population increasingly shifts from the rural to the urban areas. Bell, for one, wants them to think about wood: B.C. wood.read more
At the Salt Spring Wood Works Gallery a new show, “Summer Lights”, lights up the night! From July 1st through the summer, the Gallery will be open on Friday and Saturday nights from 9 p.m. to midnight for attendees to view a collection of fantastic illuminated sculptures by artists Judson Beaumont, Brent Comber, and Peter Pierobon.
A Gallery press release described ‘Summer Lights’ as “featuring works of ‘art in environment, ‘artifice in nature;’ outdoor public art that is visible in the dark, viewable from distances, from infinite perspectives, reflecting and illuminating the trails and the towering trees. They transform the ordinary extraordinary landscape into something unimagined, something startling and new, playful and beautiful, and they change and evolve on site in different lights; and they surprise, engage and initiate thought.”
The towering 8′ Squiddy Guards that currently stand at the “Summer Lights” show at the Salt Spring Wood Works Gallery are the most recent, not to mention most impressive, incarnation of Judson’s creepy sculptural “Squiddy” series. The Night Gallery setting really allows the Squiddy Guards to shine! A ghostly White Guard will greet you right at the entrance to the gallery grounds, while its black counterpart can be found farther in. As you wander through this beautiful outdoor exhibition, you can even take a seat on the illuminated Squiddy Guard Bench that encircles one of the trees. Don’t worry, it hasn’t bitten anyone… yet.
“Strung up in the big firs around the gallery is Brent Comber’s ‘Chandelier’ — an illuminated multi-trunk cedar lantern. Also his new light-emitting ‘Shattered Spheres’ will be nestled in woodchips, looking for all the world like alien eggs about to hatch! Peter Pierobon has created a fibreoptic lamp and large, delicate hanging lanterns that turn with the air and emit changing and flowing patterns of light.
They’re dazzling, like nothing else you’ve ever seen. Summer Lights is a rare experience of astounding original art in nature.”
Access to more Chinese ports is expected to spark new logging activity in the province’s hard-hit northwest sector
The Chinese and Canadian governments have reached a trade agreement that opens new doors into China’s growing wood products market for B.C. logs.
As of July 1, B.C. logs can be shipped year-round into China through two ports, Putian in the province of Fujian and Taicang near Shanghai, without being treated for pests, forest industry consultant Brian Zak said Thursday.
Access to more ports on a yearround basis is expected to boost log exports to China, particularly from B.C.’s northwest forests, he said.
Zak is the forestry sector representative for pest control issues in the log and lumber trade. He said the Canadian Food Inspection Agency notified him of the changes last week.
Until now, China would only accept untreated B.C. logs during the winter months and they all had to go through Putian, where they are fumigated in massive tarp-covered bunkers.
China has become the world’s largest importer of logs, consuming 28 billion cubic metres of them in 2009; so far this year, imports are up 13 per cent. B.C. exports account for only a tiny fraction of that amount, 387,000 cubic metres, all low-grade wood for which there is virtually no market in North America. The opening up of the Chinese market is expected to spark new logging activity in the province’s economically hard-hit northwest coast, where much of the forest consists of lower-grade hemlock.
“The new agreement to open Taicang Port is good for all companies selling into China,” said Wayne Drury, president of Coast Tsimshian Resources, the largest logging company in the Prince Rupert-Terrace corridor.
“We have very few opportunities to sell into a local market. There are no sawmills operating in the northwest and the pulp mill closed for good,” he said in an e-mail.
Log exports are politically sensitive in B.C. — opponents accuse the government of exporting sawmilling jobs by permitting logs to leave the country. The agreement was only announced within a small circle of industry players.
Zak said the lifting of trade barriers brings Canadian export regulations in line with those already in place for Russian and Alaskan logs.
“Our shipments were seasonal, from Oct. 1 to April 30, whereas Alaskan and Russian logs were allowed yearround shipments,” Zak said in an interview.
“The reason that we were seasonal is that they did not have a familiarity or a comfort factor with the Canadian logs or any pests that might be associated with them at that point in time. We were basically on probation with our logs.”
Zak said an expanded trade in low-grade logs is expected to created new jobs in logging, trucking and long-shoring in this province. There are few mills on the coast capable of handling the logs so jobs are not being lost in milling, he said.
“Moving hemlock is one of the toughest challenges that they have on the coast. Appearance-grade hemlock from the high-valued logs, we can sell anytime. The difficulty we have is with the small, low-grade logs. The difficulty is that there are so many low-grade logs in the stands. And at a time like this, when markets are poor, loggers hesitate going into any stand unless they can sell the whole profile [all the grades of logs].”
Only coastal timber species are covered under the agreement. Before July 1, logs could only be exported yearround if they had been fumigated here, kept under water for 90 days, or debarked, costly procedures that made the logs uncompetitive with Russian and Alaskan logs.
Zak said Chinese sawmillers are discovering the advantages of B.C. hemlock over both Russian red pine and New Zealand radiata pine. It is stronger and it absorbs stains and preservatives better.
As the Chinese become more familiar with the attributes of B.C. species, Zak expects trade to increase.
“They like our hemlock because it has so many good features to it. They also have the ability, because of their cost of labour, to extract a lot of the material from low-grade logs that we don’t have the opportunity to do over here.”
China’s appetite for logs is growing at a time when its principal supplier, Russia, is cutting back on exports. Russia shipped 14.8 million cubic metres of logs into China in 2009, down from 18.6 million the year before. A cubic metre is about the same volume as a telephone pole.
The Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of Natural Resources, today concluded a visit to China to promote Canada’s forest sector and the advantages of building with Canadian wood products. The visit was made in connection with the Government of Canada’s continued investments in expanding innovative Canadian wood construction technologies and products, both domestically and in offshore markets, such as China.
In Shanghai, Minister Paradis met with Chinese forest product sector stakeholders and visited the Montreal and Vancouver Pavilions at Expo 2010.
“Canadian wood product exports have increased dramatically over the past decade, and we are optimistic that this trend will continue,” said Minister Paradis. “The Chinese market holds unparalleled promise for our wood products.”
To help develop the market for Canadian wood products, the Government of Canada provided a $10-million Economic Action Plan funding package to support wood demonstration projects.
Of that amount, Natural Resources Canada is investing $5.7 million in support of a suite of demonstration projects in China. These projects include the Vancouver Pavilion and Espace Montréal, a multi-family unit that is part of the Shanghai Affordable Housing Program and a wood-frame townhouse complex. The strategic use of wood in these projects plays a key role in realizing the opportunities and benefits available through wood-frame construction.
Part of Expo 2010, the six-month world exposition that opened on May 1 and is expected to attract 70 million visitors, the Vancouver Pavilion and Espace Montréal will give Canada the opportunity to highlight wood’s attributes on the world stage. Widespread media attention, participation from all levels of government, and access to prominent builders and large buyers of construction materials make this exposition China’s most important trade and marketing event of the year.
Additionally, Canada has invested $3 million in the Wenchuan Earthquake Reconstruction Project — an initiative that supports the reconstruction of public buildings in Sichuan, which was devastated by the May 2008 earthquake. Key projects include the Xiang’e Primary School in Dijiangyan, which opened last September; the Mianyang Rehabilitation Centre and School for the Disabled, to be completed in summer 2010; the Beichuan Elderly Care Centre, to be completed in 2011; and an in-fill wall project in Chengdu.read more
The 5.4% increase in total building permits in April was well above the market expectation (-2.0%), due in part to a surge in institutional construction spending intentions.
But a closer look at the type of permits issued over the past few months indicates that the composition of construction investment appears to be changing.
Consistent with what has happened in previous recoveries, residential construction, although still strong, is losing some of its momentum. At the same time, non-residential building appears to be gaining strength.
The factors contributing to the moderation in housing demand include rising mortgage interest rates, higher house prices and a decline in pent-up demand.
Turning to business non-residential construction, after-tax corporate profits and a rise in industrial capacity utilization could translate into stronger private sector non-residential building during the remainder of 2010 and into 2011.
The jump in institutional building plans in April suggests that private sector construction will be augmented by a surge in public sector building in the second half of 2010.
As the chart illustrates, the strengthening in total building activity caused by increased residential work early in 2009 rapidly translated into a pickup of employment in residential construction.
However, because non-residential building did not contract as sharply as did residential ground-breaking, employment in the non-res sector was not as severely impacted by the downturn.
Fuelled by the rebound in residential building and a strengthening in non-res construction, total construction employment has increased by 77,000 over the past 12 months and now stands 50,000 below the record high reached in September 2008.
Looking forward, strong year-to-date growth of building permits in Nova Scotia (+68%), Newfoundland and Labrador (+59%), British Columbia (+50%), Alberta (+48%), Ontario (+46%), Quebec (+41%), Saskatchewan (+26%), Manitoba (+25%) and PEI (+18%) should cause total construction employment to trend steadily higher through the second half of 2010 and into 2011.
Rarely seen photos of the way logging life was included in multimedia show of song and dance
From July 2 to Aug. 28, Victoria’s Royal BC Museum, in association with The Other Guys Theatre Company, will present an original theatre production celebrating the golden age of logging in British Columbia.
Good Timber: Songs and Stories of the Western Logger is a musical revue set against a multimedia backdrop of rarely-seen imagery of B.C.’s old-time logging history.
Inspired by Rhymes of the Western Logger, a compilation of logging camp poetry by Robert E. Swanson, Good Timber is an entertaining romp through a time when loggers climbed trees and often referred to themselves as the Bull of the Woods. The 90-minute performance will be presented nightly, Monday through Saturday, at 8 p.m. in the Royal BC Museum’s Main Hall.
Tickets for Good Time: Songs and Stories of the Western Logger begin at $15 and are available online at www.otherguystheatre.caor in person at the Royal BC Museum box office.
For more information visit www.royalbcmuseum.bc.ca.read more
The newly-constructed Vancouver neighbourhood housing Olympic and Paralympic athletes and coaches during the 2010 Games now has a new distinction to add to its resume: the world’s greenest.
The Olympic Village in Vancouver’s Southeast False Creek was awarded LEED Platinum certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Tuesday, certifying it as the greenest, most energy efficient and sustainable neighbourhood on Earth.
“This should be a source of pride for residents and an example to the rest of the world,” Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said in a press conference.
“[This] is a big feather in our cap, as we move towards our goal of becoming the greenest city in the world by 2020.”
The distinction is awarded based on a myriad of factors, including proximity to the downtown core, mixed residential and commercial use, affordable housing, green and energy efficient buildings and habitat restoration. Read Moreread more
Pacific BioEnergy’s wood pellet plant in Prince George is set to become the largest such plant in Canada and the second largest in North America… In announcing a $24-million dollar expansion of the facility, Vice-President of Operations, Brad Bennett, says Pacific BioEnergy has entered into a strategic partnership with GDF Suez, Europe’s largest publicly-traded utility. Bennett declines to go into specifics of the deal, but says a GDF subsidiary will become a minority owner and the partnership has allowed Pacific BioEnergy to secure funding for the expansion.Read Moreread more
Weyerhaeuser is close to becoming a real estate investment trust. For tax analysts and shareholders, forests are no longer about timber; they’re about harvesting tax-advantaged money.
The Weyerhaeuser Company has finally dropped that other shoe, or at least has decided to drop it. Last month, Weyerhaeuser announced that its board of directors had finally committed the company to becoming a Real Estate Investment Trust or REIT. The company may make the switch in 2010. Or it may not. The only question is when. Read moreread more
Do you have customers you’d like to see at the GBM – perhaps good clients of yours that would also benefit by meeting other wood product suppliers? Let us know and we would be happy to send them an invitation, too. Qualified buyers get two nights accommodation, transfer from Vancouver/Whistler return and of course, the great meals and socials during the event…who wouldn’t want to come?!
Call or email me at the office (email@example.com , 604-882-7100)
An good press release from the Ministry of Forests and Range:
A STAR IS BUILT – B.C. “SUPER HOUSE” DEBUTS ON ASIAN TV
VICTORIA – B.C. wood products will receive celebrity treatment and nationwide exposure in Mongolia this fall when a Vancouver Island designed and pre-built home becomes the star of a prime-time show, Forests and Range Minister Pat Bell announced today.
“B.C. wood products have undeniable star quality. They have natural good looks, can play thousands of leading and supporting roles, and possess a durability that have will have people enjoying them for years,” said Bell. “The show will help establish wood-frame construction as a viable housing option in Mongolia, and further our exports to Asia, which is our fastest growing regional market.”
A great article from the Vancouver Sun on one of our members :
Monsieur Stumpy grows into larger, unassuming businessBy Malcolm Parry, Vancouver SunJuly 23, 2009
MAKING STUMPS JUMP: Fourth-generation North Vancouver resident Brent Comber, 47, seems to prosper by having his wholly owned firm do everything backwards. First, eight-employee Brent Comber Originals Inc. (www.brentcomber.com) is intentionally very difficult to find on Burrard Band land beneath the Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing.
Second, the superbly crafted furnishings and ornamental pieces it ships across Canada, the U.S. and elsewhere aren’t carved from select, straight-grained wood. Instead, Comber uses cedar and fir that would otherwise be chipped, burned or thrown away. “I never use wood that would have a higher value for any other purpose,” the former oilfield worker and landscaper said, pointing to huge blocks of cracked, sinewy and knotted wood that sawmills, veneer plants and other processors were happy to set aside for him to collect.
Third, rather than add distributors, he’s reduced them from 16 to two. Former booksellers Celia Duthie and Nick Hunt represent him in Canada via their five-year-old Salt Spring Woodworks outfit in Ganges. His sole U.S. distributor is Allison Mills, who owns the Inform Interiors showroom in Seattle.