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The value added wood producer accounts for roughly 60% of Ontario's forest products. Eastern Ontario is a key player, building on the historic growth of the lumber industry out of the Ottawa Valley.

In addition, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) opens up free access to an American market that represents over 420 million consumers. Yet, these products can be, and are on the verge of becoming, more important as a generator of wealth.

We have used wood for many generations in the residential construction sector but today the door is open to multi-uses in the non-residential sector.

There is a new generation of wood products addressing this need. Value-added wood products in Ontario are the result of combining commodity level products and innovation.

Essentially, producing value-added wood products means taking raw materials and turning it into something useful. For example: engineered wood, millwork, cabinets, furniture, tongue depressors or popsicle sticks, just to name a few. Additional processing of a commodity wood product by manufacturers creates a specialty product whose value is more than the original product.

These value-added products become part of the secondary sector of our economy. Although wood may be used in more than 10% of non-residential structures, a realistic objective for the industry is to double the current market share and reach 20%.

To serve this very significant market opportunity for wood in non-residential and high-rise multifamily construction, Canadian companies are developing and fostering the adoption of advanced wood based building systems and products.

In making this happen, developments are occurring on two fronts.  On the one hand, innovative wood products that can be used in non-residential and high-rise structures are being developed. On the other hand, companies are actively supporting the market acceptance of wood solutions by producing design tools and knowledge for architects and engineers and by providing science based evidence to building code officials.

The non-residential construction market is dominated by steel and concrete. Oftentimes, designers prefer or are forced by code to specify those materials. The perceptions that codes are restrictive and that wood buildings are more complex and more expensive also remain a barrier to wood use. Over the past ten years, Ontario has been a world leader in addressing those barriers.

Spreading the news of these tremendously important developments is a role that can be strengthened through the Saw Tech Log Expo, which is planned for 2016 in Bancroft by Canadian Trade-Ex.

This company has more than 20 years of successfully offering forestry and mining trade shows. Its publishing division offers two influential magazines, Forestry Life and Mining Life and Exploration News.

There are over 2,000 manufacturers in Ontario producing value-added wood products. Furthermore, there are more than 1000 businesses associated with the value-added wood products.

December 18, 2015



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