B.C. bolsters value-added wood manufacturing, First Nations economies
October 12, 2023 By Government of British Columbia
To help strengthen wood-product manufacturers and further support local First Nations economies around B.C., the province is supporting four manufacturers to upgrade their operations, sustain jobs in rural communities and plan for growth.
“By investing in innovation, we’re getting more value from the wood harvested in B.C., while creating and preserving high-quality jobs in the forestry sector,” said Brenda Bailey, minister of jobs, economic development and innovation. “Supporting manufacturing companies and First Nations as they grow and modernize helps build strong local economies across our province, which is why we continue to work together with industry for long-term growth.”
The Government of B.C. is contributing as much as $1.34 million toward Armstrong’s Woodtone Specialties’ capital expansion to increase efficiency, improve fibre recovery and add a new product line that will create 50 jobs at the company. The new product line will see Woodtone producing smooth-face engineered cedar siding and fascia from second-growth knotty wood, which has high demand in a market that traditionally relied on old-growth trees.
Woodtone operates its facility using renewable, second-growth fibre and uses material that is traditionally considered waste wood to create sought-after custom lengths and sizes of value-added wood products.
“Value-add represents the future of a responsible, resilient and sustainable forest industry in British Columbia,” said Hal Hanlon, president, Armstrong division, Woodtone Specialties. “As a leader in value-add at scale, Woodtone Specialties is encouraged by support from the BC Manufacturing Jobs Fund. This funding will facilitate our continued growth and innovation, creating additional employment opportunities in our community as well as furthering improved utilization of our natural resource.”
Woodtone has a memorandum of understanding with the Adams Lake Band, which previously received $1 million from the province’s Rural Economic Diversification and Infrastructure Program (REDIP) to create an Indigenous forestry supply chain value-added joint venture alongside both Woodtone and Gilbert Smith Forest Products. The REDIP project will support job growth by providing training and new employment to Adams Lake Band members while providing a new revenue stream.
This funding is part of the BC Manufacturing Jobs Fund (BCMJF), which supports for-profit organizations to plan and launch shovel-ready, high-value industrial and manufacturing projects that bring direct benefits and stable, family-supporting jobs to communities while driving clean and inclusive growth throughout the province. Applications for the fund are open and being approved on a rolling basis.
The BCMJF is also supporting three Indigenous-led planning projects from Ulkatcho First Nation-owned West Chilcotin Forest Products Ltd. in Anahim Lake, Stuwix Resources Ltd. in Merritt, and Lil’wat Forestry Ventures Ltd. in Mount Currie. The funding received for planning projects will help determine operational needs, undertake market assessments and complete full business cases for capital projects that diversify product offerings in the value-added forestry sector, lead to economic diversification and have high potential to create more good-paying jobs within these communities.
“More building projects around the province are being made with innovative, clean and renewable wood products made from B.C.’s value-added wood manufacturers,” said Bruce Ralston, minister of forests. “Supporting the growth and innovation of this sector – from mass timber and bioproducts to furniture and flooring – is an integral part of modernizing the forestry sector to get more value from every tree harvested, while creating local forestry jobs in communities across the province.”
Funding through the BCMJF is part of a series of programs that the province has introduced to support the growth of value-added manufacturing in B.C. In January 2023, the Ministry of Forests introduced a new value-added manufacturing program to establish a dedicated fibre supply for small- and medium-sized manufacturers. The Province is working with the value-added manufacturing sector to increase the flow of fibre and find ways to expand local production of high-value wood products. A strong value-added manufacturing industry diversifies the forestry sector, buffering against global market challenges.
Building resilient economies through the BCMJF is part of the Province’s work through the StrongerBC Economic Plan to build a strong and sustainable economy through clean and inclusive growth. Supporting B.C.’s manufacturing sector helps bring government closer to its goal of building a more innovative economy for people, businesses and communities throughout B.C.
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