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

What’s happening for Family Day in the Boundary

Activities in and around Grand Forks offer something for everyone.

Biologists discover another female calf in depleted South Purcell Mountain Caribou herd

Calf will be moved to Revelstoke maternity pens, then released

Petition on Second Street project presented to council

Over 1,000 signatures were gathered, but staff say council can’t do much about the project.

Man seriously hurt after police shooting near Nelson

Incident has been reported to provincial police watchdog

Mental health, BC Housing council’s picks for resolution issues

Grand Forks council aims to hold the province accountable to local government with draft resolutions

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

Cabinet likely to extend deadline to reconsider Trans Mountain pipeline

The can’t decide the pipeline’s fate until a new round of consultations with Indigenous communities

B.C. government provides $75,000 towards salmon study

Study looks at abundance and health of Pacific salmon in Gulf of Alaska

Murdered and missing honoured at Stolen Sisters Memorial March in B.C.

‘We come together to make change within the systems in our society’

UBC researchers develop inexpensive tool to test drinking water

The tricoder can test for biological contamination in real-time

Disgraced ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner released from prison

He was convicted of having illicit online contact with a 15-year-old North Carolina girl in 2017

B.C. communities push back against climate change damages campaign

Activists copying California case that was tossed out of court

Most Read