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Wood buyers and sellers meet in Whistler

Pacific Rim wood purchasers impressed by advanced lumber products made in B.C.

Forest industry leaders from around the world were in Whistler last week for the Global Buyers Mission and Wood First Forum. The convention started Sept. 5 and continued to Sept. 7.

Ahead of the forum, a few of the delegates toured the new Black Tusk Village fire hall to check out the use of cross-laminated timber (CLT) in the construction of the new building. Brad Sills has been managing the fire hall construction. He showed the visiting architects and engineers from Japan, Korea and China around the construction site on Wednesday, Sept. 4.

"Our fire hall was showcased along with Matheo Dürfeld's new production facility... as examples of leading edge building systems," said Sills.

The fire hall, which is about 85 per cent complete, was built with the new system. Sills said CLT is an engineered product that performs well during earthquakes due to its strength.

"Everybody was very, very impressed with the level of accuracy that these buildings are manufactured at," said Sills.

The technology was developed in Switzerland in the 1990s. CLT is made of multiple layers of wood, with each layer oriented crosswise to the next layer. The material is used for long spans in floors, walls or roofs.

Sills noted that the wood used for the fire hall in Black Tusk Village was all mountain pine beetle kill wood processed in Penticton.

MP John Weston was one of the 650 delegates at the forum in Whistler. He attended along with federal trade minister Ed Fast and B.C. forests minister Steve Thomson.

"Canada is growing in our diversity of trading partners and you see it at a conference like this," said Weston from the Whistler Conference Centre on Friday, Sept. 6. "People are coming to our shores because we have the best sustainable wood products."

The conference attracted 150 buyers and sellers from Taiwan, Malaysia and India in addition to the visitors from Japan, Korea and China. Having the conference in Whistler was a big draw for the delegates.

Weston said the provincial and federal governments are working together so the forest products produced in B.C. are quality products that are also environmentally sustainable.

Fast addressed the conference participants during the Whistler event.

"Over the past five years, our efforts to open new markets for forestry products have resulted in a 10-fold increase in softwood lumber exports to China and a 38-per cent increase in such exports to South Korea," said trade minister Fast through a news release.

"We'll continue to work hard to secure new export opportunities for Canada's world-class wood and wood products so we can share this country's expertise with the world."

One day before the conference Louisiana-Pacific Corp. announced its plans to buy Vancouver-based Ainsworth Lumber Co. Ltd. for $1.1 billion U.S. Ainsworth grew into an international forestry company from humble beginnings as small B.C. family company.