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RDCK okays ungraded lumber

Until now, small mills have not been able to sell ungraded lumber as a building material, but that is about to change. - Thinkstock/Getty Images
Until now, small mills have not been able to sell ungraded lumber as a building material, but that is about to change.
— image credit: Thinkstock/Getty Images

Small sawmills in the Regional District of Central Kootenay are poised to benefit from changes to the way ungraded lumber is handled.

Several local mills without qualified graders on staff want to sell unstamped, ungraded lumber for construction but have been prevented from doing so under the BC Building Code.

However, in a memo, development services manager Sangita Sudan said the regional district has the power to come up with “alternative solutions” — in this case allowing ungraded lumber as a building material so long as the mills “gain and demonstrate proficiency in lumber grading.”

This can be achieved through a certificate or diploma available through Selkirk College, and the board agreed last week a diploma is sufficient.

Buyers of ungraded lumber would also be supplied with a letter explaining quantity, species, grade, and moisture content, and a copy would be kept on file with any building permit application.

“I’m ecstatic about [the decision],” said Nakusp mayor Karen Hamling, whose community has been hard hit by industry job losses in recent years, but still has several small mills, each employing a handful of people.

“Had the regional district not provided this option, those mills would have had to shut down. So they’ve been lobbying quite heavily and are very happy with it.”

Hamling said the issue was first brought to her attention about six months ago.

She added ungraded lumber is often equally strong as graded lumber, but until now if it wasn’t stamped, it wasn’t considered acceptable.

The new policy does not apply to engineered lumber like beams, but will cover wood used for things like barns, sheds, or siding.

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