Revelstoke lumber producers say they are prepared for U.S. softwood duties

Owners of Downie Street Sawmill in Revelstoke say they've been preparing for the possibility of U.S. duties on Canadian exports.

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Workers sort lumber at the Downie Timber sawmill in Revelstoke. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer

A U.S. announcement on softwood lumber countervailing duties came as no surprise for Downie Timber. The U.S. Department of Commerce announced preliminary countervailing duties of almost 20% for the majority of Canadian softwood lumber shipments entering the U.S.

Nick Arckle co-CEO of Gorman Brothers, which owns Downie Timber, said they’ve been preparing since the last softwood lumber agreement was made just over 10 years ago.

“We knew this was coming. It’s not like we’ve been sitting by,” he said. “We’ve been making sure we reduced our dependency on the U.S.”

Revelstoke Community Forestry Corporation general manager Mike Copperthwaite said for the most part the lumber market has already factored in the increased duties in its prices. The countervailing duties won’t have any impact for RCFC.

“From a CF perspective we just sell logs. It’s our customers that would be affected,” he said. “I don’t foresee a big change in the price of logs in Revelstoke.”

Copperthwaite said it comes down to the fact the Canadian softwood lumber industry isn’t subsidized.

“It’s just a really strong U.S. lobby group. They just want to raise the prices so they make more money,” he said.

While the creation of cedar products is one of the mainstays for Downie Timber, Arckle said the mill has diversified and is also cutting other species of lumber.

“We’re not as reliant on high quality cedar. We have a flexibility that allows us to be prepared,” he said. “We have to hunker down and do what we’re good at and just work with the federal and provincial government on getting value for the product.”

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