Updated: 10 years ago - Created: October 16th, 2012
Pembroke, ON – The County of Renfrew’s Forestry and Economic Development Divisions have partnered to promote the region’s beleaguered forestry/logging industry and to showcase to consumers why choosing wood and wood products from the Ottawa Valley is a very wise purchasing decision.
The forest industry is a major economic driver for Renfrew County and many residents rely on the employment it provides. The last 5 years have been particularly difficult for the industry and the downturn continues. There is a general lack of awareness of the ability to buy local wood products, particularly in the under-40 demographic who are exercising their buying power and attempting to be informed consumers. The ability to walk into a big box store and walk out with everything you need, not knowing where the wood products came from or how they were harvested has led to a net import of wood products in a province that is capable of growing and producing enough wood on an environmentally sustainable basis. Part of the problem is the lack of awareness of these products, particularly for the consumer who expects to find what they need through internet searching and clear presentation and marketing. 
Studies have shown that there is a desire across all demographics for purchasing Ontario-produced wood for home projects, if it is available and meets other criteria of price, quality and durability. However, the problem still exists that many of the products available from local mills and craftsmen may not be available in local retail stores.
County of Renfrew staff Lacey Rose, Forester, and Craig Kelley, Business Development Officer, have been travelling around the County interviewing, learning and documenting the history, business practices and products of over 20 wood producers to date. They are using this information to create profiles and product lists that will be available on the website directory www.OttawaValleyWood.com, to be launched this fall. Product information, pictures and interesting facts about local wood producers who are interested in selling to the public are being gathered, categorized and put online. Consumers look under the category of product they are interested in, examine their options, contact the producer and buy directly from them. Purchasers get to meet members of their community who produce high-quality goods and have a personal story to tell with each purchase.
Here’s a sample of just some of the wood products grown and manufactured in Renfrew County: lumber of every species native to eastern Ontario (of any dimension, pressure treated, dried, rough or finished), cedar shingles, cedar wood chips and planks for BBQing, hard maple kitchen utensils, furniture, hardwood and softwood flooring, mouldings, baseboards and trim, exterior wooden siding, wall paneling, roof trusses, fireplace mantels, kitchen cabinets, timber frame and log home building, jewelry and wonderful works of wood art. 
The list continues to grow and the project has received very positive feedback so far, from many people who are surprised and pleased to see they have so many local buying options and from producers who are proud of the work they do. The County of Renfrew hopes to raise the profile of the sustainable forest management that occurs in the Ottawa Valley and the level of employment that results from wood – in and out of the forest. It is hoped that a sense of community pride will be created in consumers with the ability to support the local economy through informed purchasing. The “100 mile diet” is certainly possible for many of our wood needs.
While the full website is being developed, all the information collected so far is available on Facebook (www.facebook.com/OttawaValleyWood). Make sure to “Like” Ottawa Valley Wood to stay up to date when new producers are added! The website and additional promotional materials will be part of the information that will be distributed when the County of Renfrew, along with local producers, attends various industry and consumer trade shows this Fall and next Spring.
Funding for this project has been supported by the Government of Canada, through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario’s (FedDev Ontario) Eastern Ontario Development Program, administered by the Renfrew County Community Futures Development Corporation and is being offered at no cost to local producers.