Shaun Isaac, owner of Woodchucker Firewood in Trochu, is awaiting a new shipment during a firewood shortage in the province. All of the wood he has left is being saved for long-time customers who need it to heat their homes. (Contributed photo).

Shaun Isaac, owner of Woodchucker Firewood in Trochu, is awaiting a new shipment during a firewood shortage in the province. All of the wood he has left is being saved for long-time customers who need it to heat their homes. (Contributed photo).

Firewood shortage in central Alberta caused by rising demand, gaps in supply

‘I’ve said “No” to more people than ever’: firewood seller

Lyle Giesbrecht is busier than he’s been in 39 years.

Like other central Alberta firewood sellers, he can’t keep up with rising customer demand during the pandemic.

With so many people hunkering down in their homes to avoid the spread of COVID-19, more fireplaces and firepits are being used, said Giesbrecht, of Birch Firewood Sales in Ponoka.

His inventory is about a third of what’s normal for this time of year, but he doesn’t feel good about the fact business is booming.

“Who likes to benefit from a pandemic?” said Giesbrecht.

“I guess I’m kind of old school, in that I feel guilty … I mean, we’re in the middle of a crisis — and this is horrible. I feel sorry for people” who are having to cope without many diversions.

The increased interest in camping this year, along with more people spending time in their homes and yards, has created firewood shortages across the province.

Some businesses appear to be making the most of this by raising their prices, but “I don’t think gouging people is a fair thing to do,” Giesbrecht added.

Customers from as far as Calgary and Devon have been calling rural suppliers, such as Firewood on Hi-Way 53 near Rimbey, to try to track down a more affordable supply after price increases in their regions.

Firewood on Hi-Way 53 co-owner Melody Campbell said it’s been so busy, “My word, we couldn’t keep up!

“We had to shut down in June” to new clients, she added, since available wood had to be prioritized for regular customers who need it to heat their homes.

Campbell is now asking three or four customers a day whether they want to be put on a waiting list for when the next shipment of dry wood arrives.

“It’s about a month out, now,” she said.

Higher demand isn’t the only factor causing the provincial firewood shortage — a very wet spring meant loggers had difficulty harvesting the wood. And the March pandemic lockdown created a backlog in the supply chain.

So many companies had temporarily shut down because of COVID-19, “there was no one to cut or dry the wood,” said Mack Patchett, office manager for Blue Grass Sod Farms.

While Patchett still has some pine to sell, he has no slower-burning birch at the moment.

“This year’s challenge has been getting enough supply…”

Shaun Isaac, of Woodchuckers Firewood in Kneehill County, usually orders about 50 or 60 cords, but this year could receive only 13 cords — which meant he was nearly sold out at the beginning of October and is waiting for more wood now.

“Eight semi-loads of pine are booked to come in,” he said, when the ground is either no longer wet or has frozen.

Isaac admitted he has “two weeks” of wood supply left, but is saving this for long-time customers who need it for heating.

“I’ve said ‘no’ to more people than ever before,” he said.

centralalberta

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A damaged unicorn statue is shown in a field outside of Delia, Alta. in this undated handout photo. It’s not often police can report that a unicorn has been found, but it was the truth Saturday when RCMP said a stolen, stainless-steel statue of the mythical beast had been located in a field not far from where he’d been taken. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Mounties get their unicorn; stolen statue of mythical beast found in Alberta field

Police are still looking for suspects, and have called in their forensics experts to help

Stettler resident Jaden Norman is pictured here outside of the Stettler Learning Centre where she lends a helping hand as a volunteer tutor. photo contributed
Stettler’s Jaden Norman has discovered the many joys of giving back

National Volunteer Week runs April 18th to 24th

There were six additional deaths across Alberta reported over the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 1,926 since the beginning of the pandemic. (File photo)
A commercial building, housing two businesses, in Stettler was completed destroyed by a fire Thursday. (Photo courtesy Stettler Regional Fire Department)
Fire destroys commercial building in Stettler

Giant plume of smoke attracts spectators

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. Top Tory leaders of past and present will speak with supporters today about what a conservative economic recovery from COVID-19 could look like. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
O’Toole to vote against Conservative MP’s private bill on ‘sex-selective abortion’

Erin O’Toole said he supports a woman’s right to choose and will personally vote against the private member’s bill

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

A vial of some of the first 500,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada secured. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio
Canada’s 2nd blood clot confirmed in Alberta after AstraZeneca vaccine

The male patient, who is in his 60s, is said to be recovering

The funeral of Britain’s Prince Philip in Windsor, England, on Saturday, April 17, 2021. Philip died April 9 at the age of 99. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)
PHOTOS: Prince Philip laid to rest Saturday as sombre queen sits alone

The entire royal procession and funeral took place out of public view within the grounds of Windsor Castle

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Doses of the Moderna COVID‑19 vaccine in a freezer trailer, to be transported to Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Pfizer to increase vaccine deliveries in Canada as Moderna supply slashed

Moderna plans to ship 650,000 doses of its vaccine to Canada by the end of the month, instead of the expected 1.2 million

A empty classroom is pictured at Eric Hamber Secondary school in Vancouver, B.C. Monday, March 23, 2020. The Alberta government says schools in Calgary will move to at-home learning starting Monday for students in grades 7 to 12.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Calgary schools to shift to at-home learning for grades 7 to 12 due to COVID-19

The change, due to COVID-19, is to last for two weeks

Most Read