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New Brunswick government reverses ‘stamped lumber’ regulation

Logs are seen in an aerial view stacked at the Interfor sawmill, in Grand Forks, B.C., on May 12, 2018. Interfor Corp. says it plans to cut production by about 20 per cent across its sawmills in the B.C. interior as it faces declining lumber prices and higher log costs. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck.

The provincial government has reversed course on a regulation that would have forced rural New Brunswick residents to use certified or stamped wood for construction of smaller buildings like sheds or lodges.

In fact, Premier Blaine Higgs said the rule change was a mistake.

The issue surfaced in February when provincial cabinet moved to update National Building Code regulations from 2010 to 2015.

Previous codes had an exemption allowing people to use uncertified or unstamped wood for small, non-residential projects, but the 2015 standard did not renew that exemption, forcing people in Local Service Districts to buy more expensive, commercially-sold, stamped lumber. People in larger centres would still be required to adhere to permit processes in their own communities.

READ MORE: New Brunswick home builders see an increase in prices amid a shortage of constructions materials

“It was a mistake in the original order,” Higgs said. “When we adopted the 2015 building codes, the intent would have been to maintain the 2010 standards for small saw mills under the same rules and regulations that it applies to non-residential buildings.”

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The Department of Justice and Public Safety announced Thursday it would allow a grace period where building permits following 2010 or 2015 standards would be acceptable.

Beginning January 1, 2022, only permits following the 2015 code will be accepted.

“We have seen in the last year the renewed interest in exploring our beautiful province through recreational activities,” said Justice and Public Safety Minister Ted Flemming. “This exemption will remove a barrier for those seeking to build a simple fishing or hunting camp, and for entrepreneurial New Brunswickers who are developing overnight accommodations to meet the demand for ‘glamping sites’ and other small structures designed for camping.”

READ MORE: New Brunswick lumber producers pleased after U.S. duty rates lowered

Higgs expressed regret over the confusion.

“At this point it’s fixed, and it caused some angst in the system I appreciate that,” Higgs said. “And I apologize to those with saw mills. It can be as much a community source of activity as much as it is a personal hobby.”

The New Brunswick Green Party applauded the changes, but said more needs to be done.

“A system needs to be put in place to certify the timber sawn by small producers so that this timber could be used in residential, commercial, and industrial buildings,” said Green Party rural affairs critic Kevin Arseneau. “In addition, a complete overhaul of the forest industry must see the light of day in order to allow community allocations in order to make more room for small sawmills, small timber producers and the establishment of a local timber market by encouraging cooperation and short supply chain models.”

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