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Ontario forest industry group predicts rebound in 2014

The Ontario Forest Industries Association predicts a big rebound on the horizon for the industry, but it wants more help from the province to make that happen.
The Ontario Forest Industry Association points to four recent developments in the northwest as signs of a recovery: Resolute's new sawmill and Rentech's new wood pellet facility at Atikokan, the re-opening of the Ear Falls sawmill and the revitalization of the Terrace Bay pulp mill (pictured). (Martine Laberge/CBC)

The Ontario Forest Industries Association predicts a big rebound on the horizon for the industry, but it wants more help from the province to make that happen.

The OFIA says three factors could make 2014 a big year for the forest sector: a recovery in the U.S housing market, a greater foothold in the global construction industry, and commitment by the province to change the building code to allow taller buildings to be made from wood.

Spokesperson Christine Leduc said the group is working with the government on that issue.

"We're just hoping to get some good signals, and continue to keep it moving towards the end goal, which is to actually change the Ontario Building Code,” she said.

OFIA spokesperson Christine Leduc said the group is working with the province to change the building code to allow taller buildings to be made from wood. (Supplied)

Leduc may get her wish, as a private member's bill, currently making its way through the legislature, would raise the maximum height of wood-framed buildings from four storeys, to six.

The bill, known as the Ontario Forestry Industry Revitalization Act, was moved by Conservative MPP Victor Fedeli (Nipissing) last February. It's currently in committee stage.

'Recovery hat trick'

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, May Nazar, told CBC news in an email that "looking at flexible options for building standards is part of the government's plan to create jobs and strengthen Ontario's economy.

"We believe that where appropriate fire safety measures are in place, mid-rise wood buildings can be safe."

Nazar said the government is reviewing information from a consultation it held with stakeholders on the issue last October.

In the meantime, the OFIA remains hopeful for a forest sector "recovery hat trick" in 2014.

"We've got the US housing recovery ... We're really on the quest to change Ontario's building code, and the global construction is worth $8 trillion,” Leduc said.

“So we're really encouraged by all of these factors."

The OFIA also points to at least four recent developments in the northwest as signs of a recovery.

They include Resolute's new sawmill and Rentech's new wood pellet facility at Atikokan, the re-opening of the Ear Falls sawmill and the revitalization of the Terrace Bay pulp mill.

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