COFI ConferenceFull landscape of issues
to be discussed at COFI conference

Market volatility, lumber markets in China, softwood tariffs, staying competitive—the full landscape of forest industry issues will be discussed at the upcoming not-to-be-missed Council of Forest Industries (COFI) annual convention being held in Vancouver in April.

By Jim Stirling

COFI ConferenceAstimulating and encompassing agenda awaits the 700 or so anticipated delegates and guests to the 2019 British Columbia Council of Forest Industries (COFI) annual convention in Vancouver April 3 to 5.

Elected officials, forest company executives and experts from a range of industry supporting ventures will be on hand to provide insight and encourage an exchange of views on a full range of issues confronting the forest sector in 2019.

The year promises to be nothing if not interesting.

One of the characteristics of 2018 for the lumber production sector was the significant U.S. market volatility, reflected Susan Yurkovich, president and CEO of COFI. Lumber prices in the U.S. see-sawed from the $600 per thousand board foot level down to the $300s during the year.

“Volatility like that is not good for anybody,” observed Yurkovich.

Prices remained down but were more stable crossing the cusp into 2019.

“There has been a recent uptick in U.S. housing starts and the repair and remodeling sector is really significant for lumber consumption as we move toward the building season,” she noted.

COFI ConferenceOverseas, Asian markets continue their growing significance to British Columbia’s lumber producers, representing about 30 per cent of the province’s wood exports. Western media commentators have recently voiced concerns about the slowdown in the rate of growth in the Chinese economy and the world-wide impacts that could trigger. But despite the doomsayers, the Chinese economy is still predicted to achieve GDP growth of 6.2 per cent in 2019, according to The Economist magazine. Not too shabby a figure: the respective expectations for the Canadian and U.S. economies are 1.8 per cent and 2.2 per cent growth rates.

The sheer size of the Chinese economy means that overall 6.2 per cent predicted GDP growth in 2019 is spread across many areas and industries, noted Yurkovich.

The COFI CEO participated in a December 2018 trade mission to China, Japan and Korea. The visit was led by Doug Donaldson, (B.C.’s Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development) with the exception of the China segment, and was attended by about 40 forest industry representatives including those from First Nations groups.

COFI ConferenceThe industry is focusing on three main areas within the Chinese lumber market which show considerable promise, said Yurkovich. Improving B.C. and Canadian wood use in the manufacturing sectors is one of those focus areas. When the Chinese market first burst on the consciousness of B.C. lumber producers as a serious market, the demand was primarily for low grade lumber. That situation has changed.

“Now the wood demand in China is moving up the value chain,” said Yurkovich.

The second focus area of opportunity for B.C. lumber is in industrial construction, she continued. “The Chinese are looking more to prefabricated products like panels that can delivered ready-made to the construction site. These products require less labour, improve quality and take less time to erect.”

The third broad area of potential for B.C. wood Yurkovich identified is in the resort and tourism sector. The growing middle class in China has more time and money for travel and relaxation. They are a demographic more aware of and concerned about pollution and that includes a marked preference for “green” building construction, she added. The two factors combine to create the perfect scenario for promoting the use of B.C. renewable wood products harvested from sustainably managed forests.

COFI ConferenceThe Chinese middle class are also ageing—heading toward more than 500 million people older than 60—and they will require suitable living accommodations, continued Yurkovich. She credits the patient work of Canada’s federal and provincial governments along with the Canadian Wood Council—a federation of wood products industry associations—for positioning the forest industry to respond positively to China’s changing lumber requirements.

Changes also characterize the forest landscape back home. Two successive and significant wildfire seasons on the heels of the prolonged mountain pine beetle epidemic have seriously impacted the size and composition of B.C.’s working forests. “We need access to a steady flow of fibre at a reasonable price to be competitive. We are now a relatively high cost fibre area and that impacts our ability to compete,” explained Yurkovich.

COFI ConferenceAt the time of writing, there was no certainty that the tripartite agreement reached between the U.S., Mexico and Canada to replace NAFTA would be fully implemented in its negotiated form. And the U.S.-imposed duties remain a further cost burden on Canadian softwood lumber imports into the U.S.

Those are the types of issues and factors that will form the backdrop to COFI’s 2019 convention. Organizers were fine-tuning the program details for the three-day event to be held at the JW Marriott Parq Vancouver Hotel and Conference Centre. COFI is inviting top-notch speakers, including ministerial level federal and provincial politicians, said Yurkovich. They will be complemented by a range of forest industry experts, along with those from the industry’s service and supply sectors. Many of those will also be participating as exhibitors at the convention.

A feature of the COFI events is having the opportunity to circulate and communicate built into the more formal part of the convention. The popular CEO panel will return in 2019: it’s where heads of forest companies chat more informally and candidly about the issues of the day.

An interesting parallel this year will be a similar format where future forest leaders are invited to contribute their thoughts and hopefully raise a wrinkled eyebrow or two in the process. Yurkovich cited another intriguing presentation planned for the convention. “It will look at how artificial intelligence technologies might better manage B.C.’s forests.”

For the latest in speaker and program information along with registration details consult



45  A.D. Rutherford International -

3   BC First Nations Forestry Council -

7   BC Forest Safety Council (BCFSC) -

13   BC Timber Sales -

8   BCIT -

28   BID Group of Companies -

30 & 31   Brunette Machinery Co. Inc. -

42   Canadian Forest Industries Magazine (CFI) -

0   Canadian Women in Timber (CWIT) -

51 & 52   CN Rail -

36   Denning Health Group -

17   DLA Piper (Canada) LLP -

41   DO2 Industrial -

22   Farris, Vaughan, Wills & Murphy LLP -

24   Finning Canada -

38   Forest Practices Board -

49   Forestry Innovation Investment Ltd. -

1   Forsite -

48   FPInnovations -

29   Halco Software Systems Ltd. -

35   HewSaw Machines Inc. -

44   Industrial Autolube Int’l Inc. -

18   Leavitt Machinery -

15   LINCK GmbH -

16   Logging & Sawmilling Journal (LSJ) -

10   Lucidyne Technologies, Inc. -

4     LumberShield Corporation -

46   Ministry of Finance, Forest Revenue Operations (FRO) -

32 & 33   Murray Latta Progressive Machines Inc. -

37   Nicholson Manufacturing -

26   Optimil Machinery Inc. -

27   Owens Corning -

43   Petro-Canada Lubricants Inc. -

21   Porter Engineering Ltd. -

11   Raptor Integration Inc. -

19    Samuel Packaging Systems Group -

14   SCSFP by Finna -

23   SiCam Systems -

34   Signode Canada -

6   Springer Microtec Inc. -

5   Sustainability Forestry Initiative -

50  USNR -

25   Valutec Wood Dryers Inc. -

20   VETS Group -

40   VK North America LLC -

2   Wellons Canada -

39   Wesgroup Equipment -

12   Westburne -

9   Wolftek Industries Inc. -

47   Wood WORKS! BC / CWC -




Logging and Sawmilling Journal
February 2019

On the Cover:
A commitment to staying innovative and cutting edge through continuous improvements has been the key to continued business success for Vancouver Island company Coastland Wood Industries—and recent capital investments reinforce that solid approach (Photo courtesy of Coastland Wood Industries).

Cutting Edge social media for the forest industry
Through her company Cutting Edge Sacha, Ontario’s Sacha Gendron is very ably demonstrating the power of social media in promoting the wood products industry—and encouraging more women to work in the Canadian forest industry.

Perseverance pays off for B.C. sawmiller
Perseverance has paid off for sawmiller Jason Alexander, with his cedar operation in Valemount, B.C. now having a new wood supply agreement, allowing him to expand the operation, and employ more local people.

COFI Conference coming up
Logging and Sawmill Journal previews the B.C. Council of Forest Industries’ annual convention, being held April 3 to 5 in Vancouver, the largest gathering of the forest sector in Western Canada—an event that attracts industry CEOs and executives, senior representatives from customers, as well as government and First Nations leaders.

Canucks head south … to Louisiana
A new sawmill recently started up operations in Louisiana, and it has a strong Canadian connection in its ownership and equipment, through B.C.-based Tolko Industries and the BID Group.

B.C.’s Resources Expo show gears up
Work is well underway for the next Canada North Resources Expo (CNRE) being held May 24-25 in Prince George, B.C., and the interest level in the show from exhibitors—such as suppliers of logging and heavy construction equipment—is high.

Making the switch to cut-to-length
Quebec contractor Luc Beaulieu made the leap to mechanized cut-to-length harvesting with some gently used refurbished logging equipment, and the switch has served him—and his woodlot customers—well.

Family forestry legacy
The Scott Family of Revelstoke, B.C., truly runs a family logging operation, and they’re keenly interested in seeing the family legacy continued—but like a lot of B.C. contractors, they’re facing challenges in achieving that goal.

Coastland’s continuous improvements
Veneer producer Coastland Wood Industries’ business strategy of continuous improvements has delivered solid results for the Vancouver Island-based company.

The Edge
Included in this edition of The Edge, Canada’s leading publication on research in the forest industry, is a major feature story from the Canadian Wood Fibre 
Centre (CWFC).

The Last Word
Timber shortages in B.C. are now hitting home, says Jim Stirling.


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