Smart Prosperity Institute research identifies three priorities to seize the economic opportunity of mass timber in British Columbia

The mass timber industry can benefit communities and workers, particularly resource-dependent ones in North-Eastern BC that have been negatively impacted by the downturn of the forestry industry — but government, educational institutions, and industry must prioritize the development of the wood manufacturing industry to help the region capture this economic opportunity.

OTTAWA, March 06, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Mass timber (an engineered wood product used as a building material) is garnering significant attention for its potential to help address Canada’s housing crisis and reduce emissions in the construction sector. However, stakeholders in British Columbia (BC) are exploring mass timber as a potential driver of economic growth. While it is perceived by stakeholders as a relatively new opportunity in its early stages, the BC government projects the potential for ten new mass timber facilities in the province by 2035, creating up to 4,230 new jobs in forestry, manufacturing, technology and engineering, and design. If this sector continues to grow, mass timber can be a source of investment and employment for rural and resource-dependent communities by invigorating the forestry industry and diversifying local economies.

"The strategic focus on wood manufacturing growth and related skills training investments present a unique opportunity for government, industry, and educational institutions to unlock the potential of mass timber and collaboratively build a thriving industry, ensuring sustainable economic prosperity for communities,” says Pedro Barata, Executive Director, Future Skills Centre 

So how can industry, educational institutions, and government help British Columbia capture the mass timber opportunity?

A team of researchers at the Smart Prosperity Institute (SPI), in partnership with the Future Skills Centre (FSC), dove into this question, and have released their findings in three reports that highlight the three areas that industry, educational institutions, and government should prioritize to ensure Northern BC’s rural communities seize this clean growth opportunity. Key recommendations include:

  1. Attract employers by focusing on transportation infrastructure (i.e. railways) and fibre supply policies
  2. Support workers and learners by ensuring training programs are available for all industries and occupations across the supply chain (distinguishing between the production of mass timber and its adoption); focusing on upskilling for gaps; and improving the affordability and accessibility of all educational offerings
  3. Support the larger growth of the wood manufacturing industry by focusing on wood more broadly, with the ability for employers and workers to diversify into, or specialize in, mass timber

“Stakeholders in Northern BC recognize that the skills ecosystem for mass timber is growing. Prioritizing solutions to overcome structural barriers and attracting more employers to the region could transform these resource-dependant communities and ensure their continued prosperity,” says Hem Dholakia, Senior Research Associate of the Skills Program at SPI.

The decline in the forestry sector has resulted in job losses across British Columbia, but a thriving mass timber sector could help generate novel growth opportunities in small Northern communities. As of 2023, more than 350 mass timber projects have been built or are under construction across the province. Given mass timber’s likely growth, it will be important for industry, educational institutions, and governments to work together to help generate opportunities for many forestry communities.

The three reports are available online at &  

For more information or to schedule an interview please contact: 
Rebecca Babcock, Smart Prosperity Institute

About Smart Prosperity Institute
Smart Prosperity Institute is a national research network and policy think tank based at the University of Ottawa. We deliver world-class research and work with public and private partners
to advance practical policies and market solutions for a stronger, cleaner economy. 

About Future Skills Centre
The Future Skills Centre (FSC) is a forward-thinking centre for research and collaboration dedicated to driving innovation in skills development so that everyone in Canada can be prepared for the future of work. We are funded by the Government of Canada's Future Skills Program.