Official in Central Kootenay, British Columbia, calls for lumber grading mechanism enabling district's small sawmills to produce structural lumber for local building projects; options include mobile graders that issue letters in lieu of stamps

LOS ANGELES , December 24, 2013 () – An official with the Regional District of Central Kootenay in British Columbia has called for a lumber grading mechanism that would enable small sawmills to produce local structural-grade lumber for local building projects, the Arrow Lakes News reported on Dec. 19.

Paul Peterson, director of the district's Area K, made the comments at a forest economy workshop organized by the Nakusp and Area Community Forest Inc. The focus of the workshop was the district's rule that ungraded lumber may not be used in local construction, a situation that can exclude small sawmills from producing grade-stamped lumber because of the cost of employing a grader.

Peterson said he would like to see a facility or system that allowed lumber to be graded locally, adding that there was no doubt that the region produces "the best wood in the province," the Arrow Lakes News reported.

It was agreed that the issue needed to be addressed so that local sawmills could produce structural-grade lumber for use in local construction projects. But John Southam, building manager for the RDCK, said the requirement is part of the provincial building code and can not be resolved by the district. He said confusion had arisen because the RDCK is required to administer the provincial code in the area.

Southam noted that large companies such as
Interfor and Kalesnikoff employ graders who can quickly visually grade and stamp lumber that is suitable for construction. Gary Desrosier, manager of quality control at the Council of Forest Industries, which oversees the grade stamping system, said facilities that have been issued with grade stamps are inspected 12 times a year. He acknowledged that the process costs money, adding: "grade stamping is not for the little ma and pa operations.”

Desrosier said it was possible for lumber to be graded without a stamp, but sawmills would need to find a grader willing to do it, as well as a building inspector willing to accept unstamped lumber.

Southam said the industry firmly supported product standardization, even though it is expensive for companies to keep a grader on the payroll. He noted that local officials were trying to find a mechanism that upholds provincial standards and allows local lumber to be graded and used in local projects.

A number of solutions have been considered, including allowing graders visit small mills on an interim basis and issue a letter instead of a stamp to confirm that the lumber meets the grade, said Southam.

The primary source of this article is the Arrow Lakes News, Nakusp, British Columbia, on Dec. 19, 2013.

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