News / Ottawa

Hardwood flooring company cashes in on fallen ash trees

An Ottawa hardwood floor maker is cashing in on the glut of ash tree lumber that has flooded the market since thousands of trees have been cut across Ontario to staunch the spread of the ravenous emerald ash borer beetle.

"We knew that the emerald ash borer was coming and were talking about taking ash out of our product line," said Greg Gaylord, co-owner of the company, "but when we saw our lumber suppliers were overwhelmed with ash wood, we saw it was an opportunity."

Rather than have the ash trees rotting away like they were at Ottawa's Trail Road dump for a time, Gaylord realized the bugs would be killed in the process of curing the wood in a kiln for two to six weeks to make slats for floors.

"We're using it that way and selling at a pretty deep discount," Gaylord said, pointing out that much of the wood comes from western Ontario. The price is about $5 a square foot, roughly 25 per cent less costly than the favoured oak or maple, which costs $7 or more.

 Two images of Claude Street before on the left and after on the right in Ottawa show the impact of the emerald ash borer.

Two images of Claude Street before on the left and after on the right in Ottawa show the impact of the emerald ash borer.

An invasive species native to Asia, the emerald ash borer beetle was first spotten near Detroit, Mich., in 2002. Since, the insect has spread as far as B.C., leaving hundreds of millions of dead trees in its wake.

This year the city will plant 5,700 new trees  as replacement trees for the 2,604 ash trees removed from Ottawa's streets and parks in 2012. Many ash trees cut in Ottawa will also be used in the construction of a couple of LRT stations in the city's upcoming project to bring light rail to the city.

"That's really cool, especially in a city project," said Gaylord, noting that customers are coming to him and buying ash because of its story.

"There was a guy who came in looking for bamboo flooring because it was green. But I explained to him that its coming in from China on these huge ships," he said. "He ended up going with the ash, just because he loved the story."

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