B.C. wood and technology is being showcased in two demonstration homes in the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar, provincial Forests Minister Pat Bell said Wednesday.
The slumping U.S. housing industry may not want any more Canadian lumber but Mongolia, according to Bell, could be one way of diversifying outside North America.
Bell, who has been trying to put a cheery face on the fallout from the collapse of North American lumber prices and its impact on the B.C. forest industry, has been pushing the need for offshore markets as an alternative.
The two demonstration houses were officially opened Wednesday. They are small: one is a 484-square-foot, one-bedroom, one-bathroom, single-storey home. The second is 1,200 square feet with four bedrooms and two bathrooms.
“Rapid urbanization is creating a housing shortage in Mongolia, and a real need for safe and permanent housing,” Bell said in a news release. “B.C.’s expertise in wood-frame construction offers Mongolia an affordable, energy-efficient housing solution and continues to create new international marketing opportunities for B.C. wood products.”
Ulaanbaatar’s population has increased by half a million people in the last decade, putting pressure on the city’s housing stock and the Mongolian government is seeking affordable housing solutions. It has plans to finance 40,000 new homes by 2009.
The B.C. Institute of Technology has been involved in the drive to develop housing for the central Asian country and at the same time, a new market for B.C. wood products. BCIT experts have assisted Mongolia in updating its building code and have provided training and technical support.