February Leap

“(Lumber Futures) have gained 12 percent since the end of January, the most among 35 raw materials tracked by the Rogers International Commodity Index.  West Fraser said exports to China ‘picked up substantially’ in the first quarter from the fourth quarter.  Shipments climbed to a record in 2011,  government data show.  US starts rose 1.5 percent last month from December to a 699,000 annual rate, the most for a January since 2008 and a sign that residential real estate is stabilizing..”


Arboreal Memoir..

The March edition of Vancouver Magazine has a great little Q&A with author Charlotte Gill, who passionately planted 1.5 million trees during a tree-planting career that spanned 17 years.  Her memoir, Eating Dirt, has been shortlisted for three Canadian literary awards – the Q&A is available online here.

Urban Renewal?

Vancouver is reported to be one of the least affordable cities in the world.  Inside the city, the widening gap between rich and poor is reflected most starkly in challenges with affordable housing, especially in the downtown eastside.  The ‘poorer’ neighborhoods of the city increasingly find themselves the target of  ‘gentrification’… defined as “the social, economic, and cultural transformation of a predominantly low-income neighborhood through the deliberate influx of upscale residential and commercial development.  Encouraged by municipal development policies, economic incentives for investors, and the mythical pull of the creative city, urban land is purchased and developed at low cost for middle-class buyers” (source).  The fallout associated with the “violence of gentrification” that is taking place in the current pattern of ‘urban renewal’ in Vancouver is explored in the very interesting full story here.

Road Trip

Spent yesterday in the Fraser Valley tagging along on some great visits to several of Dakeryn’s local customers.  It was refreshing to get out of the office, meet people, and walk through some lumber yards – albeit in the pouring rain.  We capped the day with a tour of our custom manufacturing plant Mountain View Specialty Products – who happened to be on a DakDek run destined for the New England market (2×6 Premium Select Decking – WC 200 pattern).  I snapped a couple photos of the final product as it came off the chain below.

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Beetles and Bunnies

Pine Beetle Reproductive Cycle

“The largest known insect infestation in North American history.”

That’s how the Canadian Forest Service describes the infestation of the mountain pine beetle. The challenge of affecting an interception in the prolific reproductive cycle of these little buggers has had scientists scratching their heads for a long time.

Meanwhile, in Canmore, Alberta, the infestation of bunnies in district woods has inspired locals to come up with creative — some say radical — population control strategies.  Trapped rabbits are being delivered to volunteer vets for a delicate shave and snip – a ‘painless procedure’ – before being released to local retirement sanctuaries where they live out their hippy hop days, albeit with less hump.  Wild life veterinarians are examining the early results of the Canmore experiment to see if there are applicable strategies in woods overpopulated with pine beetle.

Retirement Sanctuary - Canmore, Alberta

Logging Indicators

“The ministry lacks clearly defined timber objectives, without which it cannot ensure management practices are effective; existing management practices are insufficient to offset the trend of timber supply and declining biodiversity in some areas; monitoring of timber results is insufficient to measure whether existing objectives are being met.”

The Auditor-General’s conclusions are countered by Steve Thomson, BC Minister of Forests, Land, and Natural Resources – who spoke at the BCWLA Smoker last month – in the full story here.

Howe Sweet

A structural engineering associate in Vancouver forwarded links to this daring design for a luxury residential tower at 1400 Howe Street.  It’s already attracting attention from skyscraper enthusiasts here while awaiting approval from the city.  By the looks of the application, it’s unlikely the multi-storey structure will be wood-frame — impressive nonetheless!

Breaking News?

A headline in The Globe and Mail might lead one to believe BC lumber sales to China are in total free fall (BC Lumber Sales to China Falling Rapidly).  No doubt reportedly large offshore inventories contributed to a slowdown after shipments surged in September – a trend that’s anticipated to be short-lived.  The article does acknowledge “order files are slightly picking up right now.”

Complete softwood lumber export data by Province and destination is available here.

Davis Cup

View from our seats

Having attended the last Davis Cup tie hosted by Vancouver back in 1992 vs Sweden, and being an avid tennis player myself, I was looking forward to the past weekend.  The venue this time around, Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre at UBC (where many Olympic hockey games were played in 2010) was beautifully transformed for tennis; the stage was set for a great weekend of world class tennis.  A win, no matter how improbable vs supremely talented France, would have put Canada into the quarter finals vs the USA.  Canada got the split they needed in the opening pair of singles matches Friday, but things quickly crumbled in doubles Saturday.  And yesterday, the much-anticipated showdown between Canada’s rising star Milos Raonic and world number six Jo-Wilfried Tsonga never materialized, leaving France to clinch in anti-climactic fashion.  One reporter probably put it best here when he said “it wasn’t the best of ties, it wasn’t the worst of ties.”