Timber skyscrapers could be made with Northern Ontario wood: Ontario's first cross-laminated timber plant will source lumber from White River.

AuthorRoss, Ian

Northern Ontario wood will feed the province's first cross-laminated timber (CLT) plant in southwestern Ontario.

Patrick Chouinard, a co-founder of Element5, the operators of a proposed $32-million facility in St. Thomas, said the fibre sourced for their operation will come from the White River area.

He said siting a CLT plant in Northern Ontario was their first option when they were deciding where the building was going to go. But after crunching the numbers, Chouinard said it made economic sense for the plant to be close to their customers.

"Because of the cost of transportation, it was decided that the plant really had to be in southern Ontario where the majority of our opportunities are."

The Ontario government announced July 23 that it's investing close to $5 million in the company's automated plant and the 60 manufacturing jobs.

That's tacked on to a $2-million grant they were awarded last February by CRIBE (Centre for Research and Innovation in the Bioeconomy), a Thunder Bay-based forestry research group.

Element5 is a Toronto and Montreal-based design, engineering and fabrication group specializing in mass timber buildings.

Their main product, CLT, is a wood panel made from gluing sawn lumber together. It's used in ceilings, walls and roof structures.

The company is positioning itself to be on the forefront of the North American wood high-rise construction movement.

Their target markets are to serve Eastern Canada and the U.S. with a range of innovative and value-added building products that are rapidly gaining popularity for use in wood-framed buildings as building codes permit higher structures.

The St. Thomas location is roughly an hour-and-half drive from the Windsor-Detroit border and about two hours from the bridge to Buffalo.

Chouinard's firm also operates a CLT plant in Ripon, Que. that is being expanded with a new building and equipment toward producing 10,000 cubic metres of CLT and Glulam (glue laminated timber).

"What we sell are pre-fabricated buildings," said Chouinard. "At the moment we're doing everything from tiny homes through to HinesT3 buildings."

Their St. Thomas plant will use mosuy 2-by-6 SPF (spruce, pine, fir) lumber coming in largely from mills near the-north shore of Lake Superior.

Element5 is an extension of Tembec founder Frank Dottori's business interests.

Through his company, WRC Timber, Dottori purchased a 50 per cent stake in Element5 last year.

The firm's other owners are Chouinard and his business...

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