Urban Lumber is a new tree recycling sawmill company that already offers services and is anticipating the opening of its storefront sometime this fall.

Urban Lumber takes in Dutch Elm infected trees and turns them into lumber products.

"We have a deal in place with the City of Winnipeg to take in the Dutch Elm infected trees and we recycle them into lumber products there, so it's 100 per cent recycled from the city and its lumber going back into the city," says Mike McGarry, Co-founder of Urban Lumber.

McGarry is a forester, along with his finacée and business partner, Carlee FarmerBefore creating Urban Lumber, they worked on the West Coast and northern Manitoba.

"So, we've been familiar in the forest industry for a long time and we were actually on the West Coast of B.C. when we decided to move back to Winnipeg and we said, hey, I think there's a business here. It, kind of, encompasses all of our talents and what we love to do and gives us the freedom to own our own business and do a service for the city that w felt deeply needed to be done. It hurts everybody seeing these trees come down, get chopped up and go to a landfill."

McGarry says that currently Dutch Elms are being tossed away at Brady Landfill, Summit Landfill, and also another recycling company, Greensite Recycling, that makes mulch and biofuels.

"There's a lot of permits in place, a lot of regulation in place from different levels of government to mitigate disease control, especially with the Dutch Elm," says McGarry when asked about how they treat the wood. "This all began actually with the startup project and a pilot project in 2019 to prove the viability of it, to show that we can manage taking in infected trees, street them and have them turned into a safe product within a suitable time period. So, right now, for example, we're taking Dutch Elm trees in and within five days all the bark is taken off or it goes into the kiln. At that point, it's a safe product, no risk of disease spread."  

While promoting the recycling of Elm trees, Urban Lumber also has other tree species such as Bur Oak, Green and Black Ash, Manitoba Maple and Cottonwood. All these can be produced into lumber products.

"We do everything from cabinetry lumbers, this is all furniture grade, kiln-dried lumber. It has a lot of applications in furniture, it makes beautiful, beautiful tables. We do live edge worked, we do some custom architectural beams, that kind of thing. But the bread and butter really are live edge slabs. Winnipeggers love having a piece of their own neighbourhood in their living room and that's where we capitalize on."


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Urban Lumber is planning on having its storefront open by mid to late fall this year, at 1289 Loudoun Road.

Farmer is also excited to get the company rolling. 

"It's been great, we're doing it right this time. The first time around we were bootstrapping it a little bit more and now we have the right equipment, we have everything we need to be successful, so I'm really excited," she says. "The reason I'm in this business is because I love Winnipeg's trees, I love our tree canopy. I've always been heartbroken seeing those beautiful elms come down every year and it just seems like a waste, especially after being in B.C. forestry and seeing these forests come down. It's like there's a disconnect there somewhere, so we wanted to just divert these beautiful, well-loved trees that mean so much to Winnipeggers and create something that can last and have another life."