China marketing opens way for Vavenby mill

Canfor recently announced it plans to reopen its Vavenby sawmill operation. Most of the mill’s production is scheduled to go to the United States, but that doesn’t mean the provincial government’s efforts to increase lumber exports to China had nothing to do with the reopening, according to Pat Bell, B.C.’s minister of forests, mines and lands

Canfor recently announced it plans to reopen its Vavenby sawmill operation. Most of the mill’s production is scheduled to go to the United States, but that doesn’t mean the provincial government’s efforts to increase lumber exports to China had nothing to do with the reopening, according to Pat Bell, B.C.’s minister of forests, mines and lands

“Sufficient volume has been displaced for export to China to allow Canfor to reopen Vavenby,” said the minister during a recent conference call. “It is a direct benefit of our China activity.”

Bell also credited the Steelworkers union and members of the Vavenby sub-local for working with the company on the reopening.

“Marty Gibbons (president of United Steelworkers Local 1-417 in Kamloops) worked hard with Canfor to allow the mill to reopen,” said Bell. “It’s a good example of a union and a company working together.”

There have been 24 sawmill reopen in B.C. in the last 24 months, according to the forests minister. 

“The forests industry is definitely rebounding,” he said. “I’m feeling very optimistic.”

China is now the second largest market for B.C.’s lumber exports, beating out Japan. 

“This market has continued to grow at a pace that is unbelievable,” said the minister. “The Unites States and China are getting very close. If trends continue, in the next couple of years China could receive more lumber than the U.S.”

One marketing project the provincial government is involved in is the construction of a three-storey, nine-unit apartment building in Beijing as part of an upcoming Green Building Show. 

The prefabricated apartment building will be put up in just three days.

About 6 – 7 million units are built in walk up apartment buildings each year in China, the minister pointed out.

“If we can crack into that with the modular style of construction we are proposing, I think this market will truly far exceed anything that British Columbia, Canada and perhaps the world is capable of delivering,” Bell said.