October 28, 2013
Wood industry interested in forum
A representative of the Canadian wood industry is interested in joining a national coalition of building materials associations, despite being the focus of criticism about unfair procurement practices for promoting wood first initiatives.
“The Canadian Wood Council welcomes the opportunity to work with competing industries to ensure wood is fairly considered in public works project across Canada,” said Michael Giroux, president of the Canadian Wood Council. “If there is another Converge forum that is run by an independent third party, the Canadian Wood Council would be happy to attend and participate.”
The Coalition for Fair Construction Practices recently held Converge 2013 in Vancouver, B.C.
It was the first combined meeting of concrete, steel and other construction materials industries.
Members of the wood industry did not attend the forum.
“The purpose of Converge was for us all to step out of our individual silos to find areas and issue to collaborate,” said Charles Kelly, president of the B.C. Ready-Mixed Concrete Association.
“Our objective is to build better buildings and address things like sustainability and greenhouse gases. We welcome the opportunity to develop a process and a plan for Converge 2 in 2014.”
In the aftermath of Converge 2013, members of the concrete, steel and wood industries agree there is a need for a co-operative approach to promote the interests of the whole building materials industry.
Part of this new approach involves getting the entire industry together next year at a second Converge forum.
“If it is a third party process or not, we are comfortable with moving forward to build a process,” said Kelly.
“If there is a willingness to open up a dialogue and start the development of Converge 2, then Converge 1 was a success.”
A rift between members of the Canadian building materials industry was revealed at Converge 2013, which was held in Vancouver on Oct. 16.
During a panel discussion entitled Preference Policies: When Promotion becomes Legislation, president of the Canadian Institute of Steel Construction Ed Whalen declared war on the wood industry for their advocacy work on Wood First initiatives and legislation.
There was a consensus at the meeting that Wood First legislation is an attack on open, free and fair markets, because the government is picking one industry over another.
It was argued that designers and architects should be free to choose any material that is appropriate for the requirements of a building or structure.
In addition, construction requires a combination of materials, including steel, concrete, glass and wood, which are integrated into all structures and buildings.
B.C. has led Canadian provinces in efforts to promote the use of wood, with the implementation of Wood First legislation in 2009.
There are currently 44 cities and municipalities in B.C. with wood first resolutions and bylaws.
The act requires the use of wood as the primary building material in the construction of provincially funded buildings, if the design of the building allows the use of wood under the building code.
Associated changes to the B.C. Building Code allow for the construction of six-storey wood frame structures.
Two stories about the Converge forum in the Oct. 23 Journal of Commerce, incorrectly stated that Wood First Legislation had been passed in Ontario and Quebec.
A Wood First bill was given second reading in the Ontario legislature before being passed to committee, but the bill ultimately expired when then premier Dalton McGuinty resigned and prorogued the legislature.
Quebec has a Wood First policy in place, but it is not part of legislation.
The Journal of Commerce apologizes for any confusion this may have caused.
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