AMHERST – Amherst is not going to pick sides when it comes to using concrete or wood for construction.
Two months after receiving a request from the Maritime Lumber Bureau to sign a proclamation in support of using wood as its primary building product for town capital projects, the town has decided against making a choice.
“While we are in close proximity to the Maritime Lumber Bureau, Casey Concrete, for example, has made and is continuing to make a significant investment in Amherst,” town CAO Greg Herrett said during council’s February committee of the whole meeting on Monday. “Wood can be, and is considered as an option in any town construction project, but there is no pressing need, in staff’s view, to make it a policy which unnecessarily restricts available construction options.”
Herrett suggested the town decline the request to pass the resolution, but advise the lumber bureau that is supports the use of wood and concrete in town construction projects.
Council asked staff in December to research issues surrounding the proclamation. Since then, Herrett said, the issue has been discussed at length in Halifax, where city staff recently changed direction on a wood first recommendation.
The city initially supported the proclamation because it would support the province’s forest industry and minimize the city’s carbon footprint.
That was met with backlash from the concrete industry, which said there is a significant among of energy used in harvesting and manufacturing lumber. The Cement Association of Canada also said concrete buildings are more energy-efficient over time.
Atlantic WoodWORKS! is an industry-led and federally and federally supported project that educates stakeholders about the economic and environmental benefits of wood construction.
“There is not a single community in Atlantic Canada that does not have the ability to contribute to the future of the forest sector by utilizing locally-produced products when constructing hospitals, schools, nursing homes and many other provincial and municipal buildings, where wood should be the product of choice,” Maritime Lumber Bureau president and CEO Diana Blenkhorn and Atlantic WoodWorks! project co-ordinator Geoff Schimmel said in a letter to the town.