Canada Wood Today | The Canada Wood Group

More Investment in China Needed

Wayne Iversen

By Wayne Iversen

Canada Wood Program Manager, COFI Vancouver

July 15, 2013

Lumber industry says focus needs to be on housing

350 unit resort development an hour outside of Beijing in Pinggu.

350 unit resort development an hour outside of Beijing in Pinggu.

Without question China has played an important role in BC’s lumber market diversification success. From 2006 to 2012 offshore lumber sales have increased from fifteen percent to fifty one percent–with China representing sixty three percent of all offshore sales.  But Canada’s lumber industry isn’t satisfied, and for good reason.  Eighty percent of all lumber produced by an average Canadian lumber mill is structural lumber (#2 & better), however, in 2006 only fourteen percent of orders from China were for structural lumber.

It is believed that 80% of SPF economy grade is used in concrete formwork.

It is believed that 80% of SPF economy grade is used in concrete formwork.

This is in large part due Chinese demand for economy grades for use in non-wood construction applications (i.e. concrete formwork, interior decoration and furniture). In 2012, Chinese demand for structural lumber increased to forty seven percent—a much improved result but still a far cry away from a Canadian mill’s production of eighty percent #2 & better.

Long gone are the days of promoting Canadian SPF lumber for low end applications. Instead, promotion of wood housing has and will continue to prove to be paramount.  Wood housing starts have increased from 1,000 in 2006 to 40,000 in 2012. Although still small, many Chinese developers feel that the wood housing market is on the threshold of taking off!

Chinese Developers Pay to Live in Wood House

Delegation Members had the rare opportunity to live in a wood frame house at the Outback resort in Vernon, BC.

Delegation Members had the rare opportunity to live in a wood frame house at the Outback resort in Vernon, BC.

Twenty Chinese developers visited Vancouver and the Okanagan in June with the purpose to learn more about wood construction. Chinese developers visiting BC is nothing new. However, the most recent delegation paid their own way in large part because of their interest to experience living in a high end wood-frame home for two nights, a highlight of their six day itinerary.  The group stayed at the Outback Resort, a wood frame house development located on the Okanagan Lake in Vernon. The group even got to enjoy a Canadian style barbeque on the patio from one of the homes.  The group also had the pleasure of dining with the Minister of Forests, Steve Thomson, the Mayor of West Kelowna, Doug Findlater and the Mayor of Vernon, Robert Sawatzky.

The rest of the itinerary was a whirlwind of wood construction site visits along with presentations by architects and wood experts. See the photos and captions below to see the week long itinerary at a glance.