TWIG Monthly: Van Urban Timber

Patrick Christie

TWIG’s Monthly event is a recurring get-together where people connect around topics, projects, and ideas that aim to bring value to forest-based resources found in BC. The featured Monthly guest is invited to tell their story and share the why and how behind their work. The event typically takes place online on the second Tuesday of each month; the next presentation will take place on January 25 from 7:00 to 8:40 pm PST. Log into the event here.

This month’s guest is Van Urban Timber. British Columbia has an abundance of fibre that does not make its way through the larger sawmills and processing plants across BC. Urban logs, trees from developing properties, and “oddball” pieces are wood sources beyond traditional forestry harvesting practices. The challenge as always comes to the logistics of converting this raw material into usable wood. Transportation, milling, drying, storage, and selling are part of a chain of activities needed to make this wood accessible to a maker, builder, or craftsperson. For smaller-scale operations, a lot of work, time, and sweat goes into this process, and as covered by the folks last month at Ellingsen Woods, you’re not always getting the most value for the quality of wood your process. The next TWIG Monthly moves the conversation from a remote island sawmill to one whose story started within an urban context.

The founders of Van Urban Timber, Eric Savics and Danny Hagge first started hanging out skateboarding in their teenage years in North Vancouver. Hagge had always been interested in woodworking from a young age and practiced carpentry for four years, which led to purchasing an Alaskan chainsaw Mill. The company started in 2009 when Savic’s interest peaked upon observing the amount of wood taken down on construction sites every day across Vancouver. From a pile of slabs in a driveway to a North Vancouver Shop and expanding sawmilling operations in Squamish, the company has evolved from its roots as an urban salvage and small shop operation. Today Van Urban Timber is a vertically integrated lumber business, with sawmills in Pemberton and Squamish producing custom cut softwood and hardwood post and beam, dimensional lumber, and live edge slabs. Recently they have formed a partnership with Lizzie Bay Logging who manages private timberland licenses, and cut blocks in partnership with First Nation communities such as Lilwat, Douglas, Samahquam, and Skatin.

The forestry bioeconomy is a way to look beyond a current industry established around providing wood products and pulp and paper to an economy to make the best use of the available fibre in British Columbia. With bioproducts being such a new industry in BC, only a few examples highlight this sector, with most being very science-heavy. Gurminder Minhas of Performance Biofilaments explained the importance of developing partnerships and relationships for the advancement of the industry. The forest bioeconomy is an emerging sector that can enhance the sustainability of local and regional economies while providing entrepreneurial opportunities and jobs. In contrast to the current forest industry, this sector provides pathways for people of different backgrounds and specialties to define the future of forestry in British Columbia.

Patrick Christie is an independent contractor, entrepreneur, and artist doing work primarily under Daly Co. Design with a foundation of Industrial Design from Emily Carr University. He has been with TWIG since the beginning and stepped into the organizer role in 2017.

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