In all the years I’ve lived on Salt Spring, few issues have held the attention of locals and visitors alike than firewood. Now, if you asked someone what the ongoing, burning issues of the day are on the island, firewood probably wouldn’t come to mind first and though, think about this for just a minute. How many conversations have you had about firewood recently? Yesterday, for me, unprompted, the number was 6. Six times yesterday different people at different places, across different walks of island life talked to me about or wondered about firewood. At least 2 of those people don’t even have woodstoves or heat with firewood. They just appeared all caught up in the wondering about it with most everyone else. “There are so many trees down! Look at all that firewood!”
The big burning question since the windstorm? Will firewood prices come down? I’ve had at least a couple of dozen people since the storm wonder about the possibility of this. And for good reason. Good quality, reasonably priced firewood on this island, or the mythical ‘dry’ firewood in January we sometimes hear about, is about as rare as consensus on Incorporation. And it’s expensive. Cords or bush cords, or half-cords, or face cords or whatever stick you use to measure your cordage is and you’ll generally find, like building anything on this island, that whatever price you have in your mind for what you think it’s worth or should be selling for, you simple multiply that by 1.5X or 2X and you might get close to actual real price on the street.
So, will firewood be cheaper this year? The consensus so far is… probably not. It’s the labour! That’s what folks are saying. The labour costs haven’t come down and won’t. Even with a greater supply of material, the work involved in falling, bucking, splitting, loading, delivering, etc. is still high. My guess. Prices will rise! This is windstorm firewood! It was manifested and air dried by the wind gods themselves! It should be more expensive! It will be more expensive! The price for ‘windstorm’ firewood is probably going to be somewhere around 1.75X regularly priced firewood that is itself already 2X’ish what it should probably cost. You do the math.
Post windstorm there are rumours of log hoarding, tree thieves and numerous other general firewood conspiracies abound, but I’m reminded that inside all of the post-windstorm firewood drama, we’re presented with an opportunity.
What Salt Spring Island’esque thing can be done with all this firewood? Other than our clear obligation to plant at least 10 trees for every one tree that was brought down, how could Salt Spring Island approach this opportunity in a uniquely Salt Spring way? Forget investing in cannabis stocks or BitCoin, the answer might already be out there. Watch: