Wood Business

Industry News News
Change to foster faster, cheaper building material in Ontario

April 15, 2024  By Sandi Krasowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Photo: Annex Business Media.

Last week Ontario announced the expansion of advanced wood construction aimed at fast-tracking new home builds and reducing costs.

The initiative is also meant to help sustain jobs in forestry, technology, engineering design and manufacturing.
Ontario’s Building Code, which allows encapsulated mass-timber constructed buildings to be up to 12-storeys tall, will be amended to permit construction up to 18 storeys.

Mass timber is manufactured wood product that meet structural, fire protection and seismic performance standards similar to concrete and steel traditionally used to construct tall buildings. When these manufactured wood components are covered with fire-rated treatments like drywall, they become “encapsulated” and are prefabricated and ready to assemble. This minimizes the impact of the construction on surrounding neighbourhoods while reducing construction time and onsite work.

Paul Manzon, the manager of building services with the City of Thunder Bay, said building code changes occur from time to time as a province considers how it can support development and public safety.


“We (the city) support that,” Manzon said. “In Thunder Bay, we don’t see very many tall buildings, but developers interested in that now have an added option available to timber frame a building.”

Harold Lindstrom, manager of the Construction Association of Thunder Bay, said although there aren’t many high-rise apartments or condominiums in Thunder Bay, local contractors are capable of producing structures up to 18 storeys high.
And it could bring some benefits.

“There’s a good chance of using local materials,” Lindstrom said. “We’re in the middle of the forest and we have a chance to get lumber and that is an advantage in this area.”

He explained how many apartment buildings built earlier in Thunder Bay were built out of masonry and precast concrete floors and walls.

“They pick up the concrete floor and put it in place on top of the walls to make the (next) floor and then put more masonry up for walls and . . . that’s how they stack things up with the multi-storeys,” he said, adding the (lumber) market is going to open opportunities.

“The industry itself across Canada is saying that (mass timber) is a more economical build. It can be built faster. So it’s good for the industry.”

Lindstrom said the provincial building code change is simply bringing Ontario’s code up to speed with the national building code. Each province has the opportunity to amend the code to suit the province’s needs.

“This (code amendment) isn’t something the government jumped to solve our housing situation,” Lindstrom said. “It was something that was looked at for a lot of years while trying to get more economical housing. It’s across the country, not just in Thunder Bay.”

Lindstrom added that the condominium project by Terralux General Contracting and Development on Golf Links Road has played an important role in boosting numbers to meet the city’s 2023 housing development goal.

He said that helped the city acquire $20.7 million in federal accelerator funding and $870,890 in provincial funding through the Building Faster Fund. Lindstrom is also a part of the Mayor’s Task Force, which was developed to determine ways to streamline development, fast-track housing, and support the implementation of the city’s housing action plan.

Sandi Krasowski is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter for The Chronicle-Journal.


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