Updated Jan 29, 2018
Things may be on hold in SW Nova Scotia awaiting the recommendations of the Independent Review but the government and Forest NS are not treading water when it comes to paving the roads for industrial forestry in Nova Scotia
“And the bigger an industry player you are, the more attention — and help — you get from government.
“It’s an open secret that, if you employ enough people and turn enough money around, especially in rural parts of Atlantic Canada, governments can be exceptionally flexible.”
So begins an op-ed by Russel Wangersky on The politics of pollution (The News, Jan 26, 2018).
Those words apply pretty well verbatim to this announcement from Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal (now under Lloyd Hines, previously Minister of Natural Resources): Red Tape Reduction in Trucking Industries (Jan 26, 2018)
Nova Scotia is working to bring roadway weight restrictions in line with those across Canada. Many roads that do not have structures such as bridges or large culverts now have an increased weight limit up to 62,500 kilograms, based on truck configurations. In the meantime, thousands of structures are being analyzed to determine their ability to sustain an increased weight.
…Forest Nova Scotia, the largest organization of forestry interests in the province, has identified these opportunities as a means to increase performance and productivity in the trucking industries. The industries’ cost savings from these initiatives so far have totaled $2.3 million.
For some background, view Big guys versus the rest in Nova Scotia forestry (Post, Sep 24, 2017).
…what Forest Nova Scotia’s transport committee chair Bruce Chisholm (formerly woodland manager at PHP) wants to see is B-trains with weights up to 92,000 kg on our roads and bigger trucks on more of our roads…It’s all pretty much in the bag according to Chisholm who “by the end of this year expects regulatory changes to allow B-trains up to the road’s current maximum legal GVW…All in all, the Nova Scotia industry is very pleased with the progress we are making, working with TIR and DNR to bring us to a competitive position with other jurisdictions.”
Forest Nova Scotia has been pushing this agenda for a while. Speaking for the Forest Products Association of Nova Scotia (now Forest Nova Scotia) before the NS House of Assembly Committee on Resources in 2014, Jeff Bishop commented:
Under the area of industry competitiveness there are a few areas which we’re focusing on; red tape reduction is one. A few years back we had Peter Duinker and Bill Lahey with Dalhousie University look at the amount of red tape that is within our industry and what could possibly be done. They also did a bit of a comparative analysis of that with other jurisdictions of similar size and made a number of recommendations. We’ve been sitting down with our partners in the Department of Natural Resources – and actually another one that is just making its way, the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal – and looking at whether there are possibilities around regulations or legislation that could reduce the amount of red tape, helping business operate more fluidly within the forest industry here in the province.
The Dalhousie work Bishop cites is apparently this one:
Duinker, P.N. and W. Lahey. 2010. Optimizing the Regulatory Environment for the NS Forest-Products Sector: Phase-I Report. Faculties of Management and Law, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS.
Yup, the same Peter Duinker and Bill Lahey of the Independent Review.
We are now officially or semi-officially on 50-60 year forest rotations in Nova Scotia, at least that’s the assumption in DNR modelling of the future wood supply. When an elder forester in Parrsboro was told in the Stanfield era that “Now you will be able harvest every 50 years”, he replied “You can’t grow a 150 year-old tree in 50 years.”
So now we are not. But the folks at Forest Nova Scotia and FPInnovations and NSDNR are not worried about that. We can produce heat and electricity and bioplastics and the like with logs grown on even shorter rotations, given some government assistance to get it all going of course, e.g. for the Nova Scotia Innovation Hub.
NOVA SCOTIA INNOVATION HUB
The emerging global bio-economy presents an opportunity for Nova Scotia’s renewable bio-resource sector (forest, agricultural, ocean, and municipal solid waste). Nova Scotia is well positioned to lead in providing lowcarbon solutions that will also enhance economic prosperity in the province. The creation of an Innovation Hub (iHub) is a first and critical step toward this outcome and will foster strong collaboration among all stakeholders, including FPInnovations. It will determine the primary actions required to establish a compelling value proposition to attract and support an industrial cluster of bio-based processing and manufacturing industries, including a liquid fuel biorefinery.
While year 1 has been successfully completed, the full project roster for 2017–2018 is still in development. The Forest Operations division iHub projects that have started are those under Transportation and Infrastructure. FPInnovations will conduct activities related to two main areas: maximizing payloads on restricted routes; and implementing technology to improve energy efficiency, productivity, and safety. – FPInnovations Forest Operations 2017–2018 Collaborative Research Program April 2017
“Developing a biofuel sector in our province will give us an innovative alternative to fossil fuels and spark economic growth,” said Lloyd Hines, Minister of Natural Resources.
“This is an exciting step toward increased competitiveness in the forest sector over the long term.”
The Innovation Hub, launched a year ago, is working to attract investors, identify markets, and help government develop supportive regulation.
– NSDNR Press Release, Jan 26, 2017
So… look for bigger and bigger trucks on our roads, with smaller and smaller logs. Oh yes, and less and less red tape, and less and less carbon stored in our forests.
I have often wondered how it is that Nova Scotia, with its low wood volumes compared to other provinces, remains competitive at all, while paying apparently relatively high stumpage fees (compared to western provinces) and so can still justify that treasured exclusion from US tariffs. Part of the answer is clearcutting and getting a buck for everything in the cut. Another part of it is roads. Compared to the more remote areas where most of forestry is practiced in Canada, no part of NS is very remote, and we have a very generous access road construction program to put roads over the relatively short distances from existing roads to get the wood out. (It’s administered by Forest Nova Scotia and “Applicants must be a Forest Nova Scotia member in good standing for a period of at least one year prior to applying for road assistance”.)
As Lloyd Hines just proudly announced, we made the roads part even better by reducing the “red tape”.
How likely is it that the Independent Review can come up with a scheme for reducing clearcutting that does not employ more of that red tape (to the objections of Forest NS), or does not require Nova Scotian tex payers to compensate Industrial Forestry concerns for losses to their bottom line if reductions in clearcutting are legislated? I don’t envy them their task.
A comment on Woods and Waters Nova Scotia
oh no no no no no. I already have fully loaded tractor trailers with the double trailer on back on this road, they already go over 1 wooden structure bridge, one cement structured bridge and one metal/wood combination bridge. The wooden bridge is only just wide enough for them to cross. Also on a corner hard to see them coming unless it is a dry dusty day and you look for the dust cloud behind them. – S.S. Jan 28, 2018
and from S.F.:
I would be interested to see the sources for this article.
To qualify what I’m going to say….I own trucks that haul forest products. The only place they would be capable of hauling close to 92 tons is Saskatchewan. 62.5 is a stretch in NS as it is.
Someone from TIR spoke at the Forest NS agm last week and there was no mention of any of this.
To which I replied:
If this is what you are referring to: “…what Forest Nova Scotia’s transport committee chair Bruce Chisholm (formerly woodland manager at PHP) wants to see is B-trains with weights up to 92,000 kg on our roads and bigger trucks on more of our roads…It’s all pretty much in the bag according to Chisholm who “by the end of this year expects regulatory changes to allow B-trains up to the road’s current maximum legal GVW…All in all, the Nova Scotia industry is very pleased with the progress we are making, working with TIR and DNR to bring us to a competitive position with other jurisdictions.” – that came from Atlantic Forestry Review (Sep 2017). Thanks for your assurances that’s not going to happen soon.