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

Nature wise: scavengers in action in the Okanagan Valley

Bob Handfield is president of The South Okanagan Naturalists’ Club

Oliver to get new sheriff from graduating class

Oliver will be one of a number of B.C. communities to get a member of the recent graduating class

Male strippers appeal with comedy

Vancouver’s Comic Strippers to perform shows in Salmon Arm and Vernon

Out to pasture at the Freak’n Farmer

The annual “fun” event at Covert Farms put on by the Covert family and HooDoo Adventures

Couple of cruisers crammed in Penticton

Penticton RCMP officers and voluteers collected food and money for the Salvation Army Food Bank

Environment Canada confirms Ottawa area hit by two tornadoes Friday

At one point more than 200,000 hydro customers were blacked out

Who’s running in Penticton’s election?

Candidates for the Penticton municipal and school board election

Whitecaps see playoff dreams fade after 2-1 loss to FC Dallas

Goal in 87th minute seals Vancouver’s fate

B.C. students send books to displaced students of Hornby Island school fire

Maple Ridge elementary school teacher says students learned about acts of kindness

Trans Canada now open west of Chase, ‘heavy delays’

Few details available about crash that closed Trans Canada Highway west of Chase Sunday, Sept. 23

Trump drains oxygen from Trudeau foreign policy with PM, Freeland bound for UN

A lot has changed since the Liberals came to power in Canada in 2015

B.C. man fined $15,000, barred from trading securities for fraud

Larry Keith Davis used money from an investor to pay personal bills

Emergency crews investigate small sulphuric acid spill in Kootenays

IRM states a small volume of less than one cup and three dime-sized drips were leaked from carrier

Most Read