International ambassadors, high commissioners and consuls general representing 48 countries paid a visit to the BC Forest Discovery Centre. (Malcolm Chalmers photo)

Business notes: Forest Discovery Centre impresses international delegation

A delegation of more than 50 people representing 48 countries from around the world

The Cowichan Valley had a unique opportunity recently to showcase its considerable assets in front of a power group of international visitors.

A delegation of more than 50 international ambassadors, high commissioners and consuls general representing 48 countries from around the world visited the Forest Discovery Centre as part of a trade mission to display forestry, fisheries and tourism opportunities in British Columbia.

The delegation was led by Bruce Ralston, B.C.’s Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology.

One of the highlights of the visit was a stopover at the BC Forest Discovery Centre in Duncan to view the new and innovative Forests Forever Exhibit that illustrates the current sustainable forestry practices being used in B.C.

Prior to hosting the visit, BCFDC manager Chris Gale, manager of the BC Forest Discovery Centre, met the foreign diplomats during an event at Government House hosted by Jane Austen, B.C.’s lieutenant-governor and Premier John Horgan. Many of the delegates showed great interest in the BCFDC and a number have requested private tours for delegations they intend to bring to B.C. in the spring.

“It was a privilege to have the opportunity to share the new exhibit with the many representatives from countries around the world and to participate in a little boasting about our wonderful facility,” Gale said.

Kindry Mercer of Western Forest Products adds that it was an amazing opportunity to host such a diverse and interesting group.

“On behalf of all the members of the forest sector that contributed their expertise and resources to the Forests Forever exhibit, we are so pleased that it can be used as a conduit to share information about B.C.’s sustainable forest management and wood products innovations,” said Mercer.

The designer for the Forests Forever exhibit, Karen Sorensen of ReMark Brand Environments, spoke to the international delegation about the research and development legacy in the province for engineered mass timber products. “The new exhibit showcases examples of parallel strand lumber and cross laminated timber utilized in modern tall wood buildings and illustrates that forests products truly are everywhere, and we all need forests forever through sustainable forest management,” Sorensen said.

Gale says following the visit, the Forest Discovery Centre received a letter from the B.C. government thanking the Centre for its contribution to the success of the trade mission.

“The letter recognized the team for their professionalism, hard work and dedication that provided a world-class experience for these important guests as well as thanks to Mayor Al Siebring for his participation in the event,” Gale said.

“The visit was a tremendous opportunity and it is hard to imagine a better way to make a positive impression than to welcome international delegates into our community and show them exactly what B.C., the Cowichan Valley, and the BC Forest Discovery Centre has to offer the world.”

It was truly a rare opportunity to connect with such a large and diverse international delegation.

Countries represented on the 2019 Economic Mission included: Albania, Belgium, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Korea, Latvia, Lesotho, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Rwanda, Senegal, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, Togolese Republic, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela, and Vietnam.

• • •

Organizers are expecting a larger than normal number of nominations for the 13th Annual Vancouver Island Real Estate Board Commercial Building Awards, set for April 23 at the Coast Bastion Hotel in Nanaimo.

Commercial, industrial and revenue-producing projects, including renovations, from the Malahat to Port Hardy are up for these awards, and must have been completed between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2019.

“We have already received a number of nominations for this year’s event, so we’re anticipating another large number of buildings to enter,” says Mark MacDonald of the Business Examiner, which coordinates the event.

Nomination deadline is March 19.

There will be at least 11 commercial categories: Mixed-Use (commercial/residential), Seniors housing, Community institutional, Community recreational, Retail, Industrial, Multi-family, Hospitality, Commercial renovation/restoration, Office, and Green.

There will also be a Judges’ Choice Award for the best overall entry. Last year’s winner was the Legasea condominiums in Nanaimo.

A select team of independent judges from the real estate industry will perform adjudication. Black Press is a Platinum Media Sponsor.

Gold Sponsors of the Awards have been MNP LLP, RE/MAX Commercial and Coastal Community Credit Union. Category sponsors have been Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), Colliers, NAI Commercial, Canadian Western Bank, CIBC, Herold Engineering and Yellow Sheet Review.

Tickets to the event, which is expected to be a sellout, are $125 plus tax, and are available at

For information and nomination forms, please contact Sue Lessard of VIREB at 250-390-4212 or visit


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