Hammond Cedar employee stacks the high-value wood that remains in demand around the world. The Fraser River site has had a sawmill for more than 100 years, and it’s closing by the end of 2019. (Maple Ridge News)

B.C. VIEWS: Cutting wood waste produces some bleeding

Value-added industry slowly grows as big sawmills close

Another bruising week for B.C.’s forest industry featured the indefinite shutdown of Tolko Industries’ sawmill at Kelowna, and the halt of what was left of Vancouver Island and Fraser Valley logging by contractors for Teal-Jones Group, which runs three mills in Surrey.

That’s 600 more mill workers either out of a job or soon to be as their log supply runs out, plus contracted loggers and haulers. Add that to Interfor’s permanent closure of the century-old Hammond Cedar sawmill in Maple Ridge and West Fraser’s move to “variable operating schedules” at its sawmills and plywood plants at Williams Lake, Quesnel, 100 Mile House, Chetwynd and Fraser Lake. All in a 10-day period, and all due to the now-familiar mixture of low lumber prices, high log costs, diminished log supply and U.S. trade sanctions.

Teal-Jones added two more factors in its second decision this summer to lay off loggers: “Current high stumpage rates remain high relative to lumber prices, and harvesting costs have been adversely impacted by new regulations to bring out more residual waste fibre.”

RELATED: Hundreds of Teal-Jones workers await end of log supply

RELATED: Closure sad day for Hammond mill families, community

Stumpage, the province’s Crown timber fee, is adjusted quarterly and hasn’t kept up with plummeting lumber prices this year. And the NDP has cracked down on residual waste, charging triple stumpage on any wood left behind that is deemed to be economically usable.

Forests Minister Doug Donaldson says the residual wood program is just getting going, defining economic hauling zones, and may need some adjustments. But industry should get used to it. The days of huge slash piles left behind after the sawlogs are trucked out are coming to an end, and not just on the B.C. coast.

“I’m expecting we’re going to hear about this in the Interior renewal process that we’re undertaking as well,” Donaldson told me. “Wood left in slash piles that could be used for other purposes is consistent. The key is ensuring that those policy changes are applied where there is an economic analysis that it’s economical to bring that wood out.”

B.C. Liberal forest critic John Rustad says the new residual rules pile on harvesting costs at the worst possible time, and it’s backfiring as logging slows rather than running at a loss. Instead of getting extra residual wood, pulp mills are grinding more logs to keep going, he says.

Traditionally, residual fibre is collected by a second logging crew, mainly for pulp. Nowadays we also have pellet manufacturers feeding power plants in Europe, and value-added producers making everything from log homes to windows, doors, siding and other specialty products. Donaldson wants all usable wood taken out on the “first pass” of logging.

Donaldson made his first visit to the Global Buyers Mission event in Whistler last week. It’s the 16th annual trade show held by B.C. Wood, the value-added manufacturers group. Held in the ski resort that symbolizes B.C. wood construction world-wide, it had 270 industry representives hosting buyers from 20 countries, including Australia, Mexico, the U.K., the U.S., India, Japan and China.

B.C. Wood’s tracking system reports $38 million in sales from the Global Buyers Mission last year, Donaldson said. And some specialty products are made from residual wood that doesn’t fit the traditional measure of eight-foot construction lumber.

“It aligns well with what we’re focused on as the direction for the forest sector in the future, maximizing value rather than just maximizing volume,” he said. “That’s the way we’ve got to go.”

Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press Media. Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

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

Just Posted

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

‘Someone knows something’: a look into Vancouver Island missing persons with interactive map

There are more than three dozen people listed as missing throughout Vancouver Island

Commercial plaza proposed for Rocky Creek and Ludlow intersection

Town Council directed the application proceed for further consideration

Symphony pop-up concerts coming to Saltair

Only 40 tickets available so get them soon if you’re interested

South Wellington Elementary demolition not taking place next school year

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public School trustees vote against razing south-end school in 2020/21

B.C. records 62 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths since Friday

Province has just over 200 active cases

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

We’re asking you to lock arms with us, as we look to better days ahead

Canadians torn on scaling back COVID-19 benefits to save money: poll

Of those surveyed, 78 per cent said they were worried about the size of the deficit

Port Alberni will have a salmon derby on Labour Day after all

Alberni Valley Tyee Club reveals ‘socially distanced’ derby only for Labour Day 2020

‘Trauma equals addiction’: Why some seek solace in illicit drugs

Part 2: Many pushed into addiction by ‘toxic stress,’ says White Rock psychologist

Hotel rooms for B.C. homeless too hasty, NDP government told

Businesses forced out, but crime goes down, minister says

Suspicious fire quenched before reaching gunpowder in Nanaimo’s historic Bastion

Probe underway in basement blaze that erupted near where powder stored to fire signature cannons

Duncan model makes quarter finals in ‘Maxim’ magazine contest

Brandee Peart among top one per cent left in competition

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

Most Read