Slew of factors driving up price of firewood in N.S. | CBC News (2024)

Nova Scotia

Firewood suppliers say that while the cost of fuel, wages and machine parts have increased, they're also dealing with a labour shortage.

Cost of fuel, wages and a labour shortage all play a role in prices, suppliers say

Slew of factors driving up price of firewood in N.S. | CBC News (1)

Josefa Cameron · CBC News

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Slew of factors driving up price of firewood in N.S. | CBC News (2)

Robin Barrett ofBarrett Firewoodin Beaver Bank, N.S., says he was able to keepthe price of firewood steady from 2015 to 2020, but with today's higherinflation, he wasforced to increase it.

Before delivery fees and taxes, he says his prices are upabout30 per cent, per cord, since 2020. A cordis 128 cubic feet,or 3.6 cubic metres,of stacked wood.

"We noticed a significant increase last year when the fuel prices started going up," he said.

But inflation is notthe onlycause ofthe risingfirewood prices consumers are seeingin Nova Scotia.

"We've had some major issues in terms of finding people," Barrett said. "Our type of industry requires both someone with a really good mind and who has the muscle and enjoys using it. Those people are becoming more and more rare."

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He said there's stiffcompetition for labourers.

"So we are in the position where we have started paying significantly more for our people and that's been reflecting in the price."

His companyis competing with the construction industry and everyone else who is looking for truck and delivery drivers.

Slew of factors driving up price of firewood in N.S. | CBC News (3)

Prices formachinery parts havealso increased, Barrett said, sometimes as much as 200 per cent.

"On top of that, the interest rate is hitting us in a couple ways," he said. "Parts are difficult to get our hands on, we're stocking more parts and of course we're having to finance all the extra stocking. The other thing in our operation, we bring wood in six to 12 months in advance to pre-dry it. As the interest rate goes up, the cost of carrying that inventory and pre-drying has gone up as well."

Barrett said that he tries to keep their prices reasonable and at the cost of inflation, "But I'm not sure as inflation goes up and down quite where we're going to be."

Labour, firewood shortage

Barrett said there's a high demand for firewood he wasn'table to meet because of a staff shortage. But he hopes the increase in price will let himhire more staff.

He said that with the post-tropical stormFiona cleanup, there is a shortage of forestry workers in Nova Scotia.

"A lot of the folks who do harvesting are dealing with Hurricane Fiona, so finding contractors who aren't tied up with hurricane cleanup right now is difficult."

There is also a shortage of firewood, Barrett said. He chalks this up to competition frommajor buyers in the province.

"A lot of it gets chipped and sent overseas and that market is really strong."

Rising costs are only fair

John Gatza owns a family-run sawmill and lumber retail business calledRiver Ryan Lumberin Cape Breton, N.S. He said that there has been a 10 per cent increase since last year. Prices rosefrom $250 to $275 per cord largely because of the price of fuel.

He said the price of firewood makes sense considering inflation.

"I actually don't think the prices are high. Actually, I think they're where they should be, to be honest with you, because before with prices so low, especially on lumber, there was no margin in anything. It was really tough to make a dollar of profit," Gatza said.

Slew of factors driving up price of firewood in N.S. | CBC News (4)

As fuel increases in price, Gatza said he is charging more for his products just to make the same amount of money, "So then it turns into a vicious cycle."

To help business, Gatza is also adding other types of inventory this year.

"We're bringing in hardware, doors and plywood, nails, screws and stuff like that," he said. "It should help with margin and it should also help keep our lumber prices lower. We're going totry and be the lowest kid on the block for lumber this year."

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Slew of factors driving up price of firewood in N.S. | CBC News (5)

Josefa Cameron

Associate producer/reporter

Josefa is Island Morning's associate producer at CBC Prince Edward Island. She previously worked as a reporter, web writer and associate producer for CBC Nova Scotia. You can reach her at josefa.cameron@cbc.ca

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