Lumber program gets $500K to promote local wood
The federal government is spending $500,000 to encourage the use of Atlantic Canadian wood in regional construction projects.
The two-year expenditure, announced Tuesday in Amherst, will go toward a program called Atlantic WoodWORKS! — an initiative led by the non-profit Maritime Lumber Bureau.
The non-profit organization wants contractors to start thinking about wood as a primary construction material in all new non-residential properties.
"Hospitals, schools, long-care nursing homes and arenas," said Diana Blenkhorn, the president and CEO of Maritime Lumber Bureau.
"What we're doing is educating on the environmental benefits and the availability of these products to satisfy the non-residential needs."
The initiative, an expansion of a national Canadian Wood Council program, aims to promote the economic and environmental benefits of using locally-produced wood in commercial and municipal projects.
In addition to the $500,000 from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, the governments of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador are contributing a total of $134,000 to the program.
The Canadian Wood Council is chipping in $160,000 and about $148,000 is coming from industry partners.
"Wood is environmentally friendly, it leaves a very small carbon footprint," said Charlie Parker, the provincial minister of Natural Resources.
Sawmill operators said many countries already rely heavily on wood for construction.
"There are various places in the world where the wood culture is very strong: Scandinavia, certain places in Europe," said Doug Ledwidge, the president and general manager of Ledwidge Lumber.
"I think it can be grown here and we can get more wood into larger institutional buildings and so forth and commercial buildings.
Glen Warman, the vice-president of Marwood Ltd. in Fredericton, said companies that already do secondary wood processing see an opportunity to expand.
"Allow us to venture into different programs, different products and allow us to educate people that wood is a good product and lots of diversification, a lot of different opportunities for it," he said.
The Maritime Lumber Bureau plans to host several wood design seminars later this month for architects and engineers, to promote the use of wood in their construction projects.
With files from The Canadian Press