Structurlam’s Okanagan Falls plant manager Lyndon Chernoff with some wood set for a major construction project. A bill from MP Richard Cannings proposes federal government be required to look at wood when constructing infrastructure. Western News file photo

Major hurdle cleared for Cannings’ infrastructure bill

Cannings’ bill to push wood infrastructure got oak-ay from commons, headed fir committee study

After passing second reading in the House of Commons, Richard Cannings’ bill suggesting Ottawa seriously consider wood structures when constructing federal buildings is moving to the committee level.

Though he has previously had a bill he tabled be taken on by government as a policy, rather than going through the legislative process, Cannings, member of Parliament for South Okanagan—West Kootenay, said Bill C-354 was only one of two NDP bills to pass second reading in two years.

The bill saw support from all MPs outside of the Conservative Party, which voted entirely against the bill.

Related: Cannings reflects on a productive year

“I knew cabinet would be behind it, but I didn’t know how the rest of the caucus would feel, and I had quite a number of Conservatives lined up, but it turned out that they both whipped their vote in different directions,” Cannings said.

“It’s a nice feeling.”

Cannings said the natural resources committee, on which he sits, still has yet to decide whether they will move ahead with the bill quickly or sit on it, but he said he heard from cabinet that the governing Liberal Party would like to see the bill move forward, albeit watered down.

“The Liberal side and the parliamentary secretaries for public works and natural resources both brought up concerns about the strong language it has in there about giving preference and thought this might cause problems with international trade law,” Cannings said.

Related: Cannings calls for support for softwood workers

“I don’t think it does, because of the language around using this test of cost and carbon footprint cost. I think that would mitigate that. In British Columbia we have the Wood First Act, which does basically the same thing and no one’s ever complained about it.”

Cannings added Europe also has similar laws surrounding disincentivizing things like vinyl siding.

“If they can do it, I don’t know why we can’t,” he said. “We’re going to talk to people in the industry. The Forest Products Association of Canada is very, very happy right now that this passed.”

The bill would require the federal government to consider wood in federal infrastructure projects, while taking into account costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

Related: U.S. adds another border tax to B.C. lumber

In the House on Tuesday, Cannings made a final pitch for the bill.

“We are at the cusp of a significant change in how we construct buildings. For over a century, large building have been built with concrete and steel,” Cannings said.

“While that will continue for years to come,we have new engineered wood, or mass timber technology that can replace some or all of the concrete and steel in buildings.”

The Conservative Party took issue to the proposal, saying it distorted the market in favour of wood, but Cannings suggested the concrete industry had come to the government looking for similar treatment, and said the concrete and steel industries could compete with wood.

The bill, if passed, could support the wood industry in a time when wood’s future is still up in the air, as trade disputes, both surrounding the North American Free Trade Agreement and, more specifically, softwood lumber continue between Canada and the U.S.

Related: Penticton’s Structurlam continues to rise

That might be of help, also, to spots like Structurlam in Okanagan Falls, which does construction projects using wood beams.

Cannings also sought to quell fears of fire hazards from wood structures.

“Those that have been built already have been designed with direct involvement and sign-off by fire chiefs,” Cannings told Parliament.

“Remember, we are not talking about stick-frame buildings here. Fire acts completely differently when it encounters a beam that is a metre thick than when it encounters a 2×4. It is like sticking a match to a big log.”


@dustinrgodfrey

dustin.godfrey@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

175 evacuation orders lifted in Grand Forks’ downtown

Officials hope to have all 3,000 people back in their homes by Monday night

VIDEO: As floodwaters recede, crews assess the damage to Grand Forks’ downtown

More than four dozen firefighters and building inspectors came out to help

VIDEO: Canadian Forces members begin helping out flooded B.C. communities

Three-hundred personnel in B.C. in some off hardest hit cities

Residents sandbag Ruckle in advance of predicted Saturday flood

Residents were allowed back in for 12 hours on Thursday.

Riverside warnings issues for Grand Forks properties

The RDKB has not issued orders to leave, but owners should be aware.

VIDEO: Canadian Forces help flood-ravaged Grand Forks residents heal

Sgt. Bradley Lowes says the military is used to dealing with traumatic times

B.C. Lions bring back 6-time all-star offensive lineman Jovan Olafioye

He was acquired by the Montreal Alouettes last year.

Whitecaps rally for 2-2 draw with FC Dallas

Vancouver climbed out of a two-nil hole to tie FC Dallas 2-2

B.C. VIEWS: Making sense of climate policy

Flood and fire predictions have poor track record so far

Chilliwack Chiefs moving on to RBC Cup final after thrilling win over Ottawa

Kaden Pickering scored the winning goal in the 3rd period as Chilliwack won their semi-final 3-2.

Wellington Dukes pull off epic upset of Wenatchee at RBC Cup

The Dukes are off to the championship game after downing the Wild 2-1 Saturday at Prospera Centre.

Canada to face U.S. for bronze at world hockey championship

Canada was looking to play in the gold medal game for a fourth straight year, but saw 3-2 loss

Searchers for Vancouver Island father turn focus to Cowichan River

Cowichan SAR joined by many other SAR groups, volunteers now determined to find missing man

Vacationers urged to check for stowaway bats that could carry deadly disease

‘White-nose syndrome’ has killed millions of bats in North America, but hasn’t arrived in B.C. yet

Most Read