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Timmins forest operations and mill tour featured in the Daily Press

Timmins Daily Press writes about a recent tour of the Timmins sawmill, led by David Moses and a group of architects, engineers, and builders from Southern Ontario:

A group of professional architects, engineers and builders from Southern Ontario were in Timmins Thursday to get a first-hand look at forestry operations.

They visited the Gordon Cosens Forest and watched harvesting operations at work, saw forested areas that were harvested decades ago and have since regenerated and then toured the EACOM Timmins sawmill.

“The whole point of the tour is to get some of the folks from Southern Ontario, users of wood who are promoting wood structures, tall wood buildings, cross-laminated timbers and all that, to go up North and actually see for themselves forestry operations in the field,” said Rob Keen, chief executive officer of Forests Ontario, which organized the trip.

Why didn’t they go to view operations in Huntsville which could have been closer for these Toronto-area visitors?

“We wanted to get into some of the Boreal Forest type of forest management,” Keen explained. “Around Huntsville, it’s a lot more of the selection-method systems. I think some of the misinformation (about the forest industry) is usually associated with what happens in the Boreal Forest. That’s why coming up here, seeing that kind of forest, seeing the harvesting operations, and the regeneration efforts afterwards has made a fairly significant impression on folks today.”

David Moses, a structural engineer from Toronto, was among the 22 individuals on the tour.

He said there has been a resurging interest in the use of wood, particularly in mid-rise buildings since 2015 when the Ontario Building Code was amended to allow six-storey wood-frame building. Prior to that, it was limited to four storeys.

“Definitely, there are lot of buildings throughout Ontario that have been built that way using stick-frame construction primarily,” said Moses.

“What we’d like is an even different type of building typology where we are looking at mass-timber products like glued laminated timber and other products that allow us to have greater spans and leave the wood exposed.”

“In the six-storey building with lumber, we have to conceal all the wood as part of encapsulated systems so you have drywall everywhere and you don’t get to appreciate it.”

“But if you pull that drywall away and have a mass timber product that actually has fire-resistance, has char capability, now you’ve got a nice product so people can see it.”

Keen said many of the architects and designers who went on the tour regularly promote the use of wood, but are still questioned by clients about its durability and even of its sustainability as a resource.

“This (tour) provides them with first-hand experience, so when a question is posed to them about forestry, they can say, ‘Hey, I’ve been up North, I’ve seen the operations in action, I’ve been out to the field, I’ve seen all the values that are protected, I see the utilization – we do excellent sustainable forest management in Ontario and here’s why,” said Keen. “That’s the gap we’re trying to fill here as opposed to just liking to use wood.”

Click here for the full article by Ron Grech in The Timmins Daily Press

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