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Steel construction industry challenges B.C.'s Wood First building policy

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The Wood Innovation and Design Centre under construction in downtown Prince George.

The president of the Canadian Institute of Steel Construction wants B.C. to review its "Wood First" policy launched in 2009.

According to the B.C. government, the policy was introduced as a way to "encourage a cultural shift toward viewing wood as the first choice for construction, interior design and daily living". Among the intiatives from this policy is the construction of a Wood Innovation and Design Centre in Prince George, and a preference to wood as a building material in government buildings. It is hoped that this will create new jobs in B.C.'s forest industry.

However, other industries say the policy is hurting them. Charles Kelly is President of the BC Ready-Mix Concrete Association.

"This is four years later. The wood industry has recovered. So now's a chance to stand back and say, 'Well, was this really the best policy for British Columbia?'"

Edward Whalen with the Canadian Institute of Steel Construction says the wood first policy has hurt concrete and steel suppliers, and is ready to fight back.
"We're not going to sit around and take it anymore. We need governments to realize that a strong construction industry is a balanced one. Certainly we don't believe governments should be choosing who the winner is."

The B.C. Government says it has no plans to review the policy.

Listen to Edward Whalen explain why he thinks Wood First is hurting B.C.
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