Builders urge Ontario to allow six-storey wooden structures

Ontario’s building industry wants to see changes to the Ontario Building Code that would allow the use of woodframe construction in buildings up to six storeys. At present, the height limit for wooden buildings in Ontario is four storeys. The proposal is set out in a report, titled Unlocking the Potential for Mid-Rise Buildings: Six Storey Wood Structures. The report was commissioned by the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON) and the Canadian Wood Council.

wood-construction-BILD-Wood-Council-Ontario-mid-rise-construction-Condo.ca
Construction wooden buildings of six storeys has been allowed in British Columbia since 2009. Ontario’s home builders want the Ontario Building Code revised to allow them to do the same.

The report, which was written by Toronto urban planner and professor Paul Bedford, argues that changing the Code would facilitate a solution to the problem of inadequate affordable housing in the province. Building in the mid-rise range becomes more expensive when the building is more than four storeys tall, according to the president of the Ontario Home Builders Association, Leith Moore. “If the Ontario Building Code allowed for six-storey woodframe construction, costs would go down and options for new homebuyers would go up,” Moore said. The recommendation agrees with those of previous studies which have called for the use of mid-rise construction on major avenues, particularly in Toronto. The City of Toronto produced a study (The Avenues and Mid-Rise Buildings Study) which advocated for the intensification of land use along these major “avenues” such as Eglinton and St. Clair, through the use of six-storey, mixed-use construction: commercial and retail on the ground floor, residential on the upper floors. Mid-rise buildings, according to the City of Toronto, are the ideal urban structure: “They are bigger than houses but smaller than towers. Mid-rises have a good scale relationship to the street. They define or make walls to the street that are tall enough to feel like a city and provide lots of usable space, but low enough to let the sun in and open the view to the sky from the street. They support a comfortable pedestrian environment, and animate the street by lining the sidewalk with doors and windows with active uses including stores, restaurants, services, grade related apartments, and community uses.” These sentiments are echoed in the BILD report. Bryan Tuckey, BILD’s president and CEO, says six-storey wood construction housing would be “good urban planning” that is safe and good for homebuyers. Changing the Code would “unlock the immense potential in neighbourhoods that have underutilized land on major avenues and corridors.” The report, he says, shows that these major avenues and arteries are already well served by existing infrastructure and transit. The mid-rise option could meet the demands of increasing population in the area, while offering a variety of sizes and designs for residents of all ages. Addressing the issue of safety, particularly regarding fire, a separate report titled Mid-Rise Combustible Construction in Ontario–Building Code Issues makes the point that the number of fire incidents in buildings does not increase “just because buildings have more combustible material.” Rather, the study showed that fire incidents are related to the “use and occupancy of the building,” in the words of Richard Lyall, president of RESCON. Also, many provisions in the National Fire Code and regulations in Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety address potential fire hazards and provide solutions to reduce risks. “Woodframe buildings have to meet the same standards as those built using other materials,” said Marianne Berube, Executive Director, Ontario Wood Works, Canadian Wood Council. British Columbia, the report notes, amended its building code back in 2009 to allow six-storey woodframe construction, a change that had “an immediate impact” on the local economy. Ontario could expect to see a number of benefits deriving from the proposed change, including job creation, increased tax revenues, more affordable housing for homebuyers and a “minimized” carbon footprint in the construction process.   Reprinted with permission of Condo.ca

Did you miss this?

Other Popular Stories

  • Researchers claim micro-fluidics breakthrough with liquid metal pump
  • Waterloo researchers seek cheaper fuel cells for electric cars
  • Manufacturing sales rose sharply in some sectors in January: Statistics Canada
  • Ontario vs Canada: Ontario challenges the Federal Carbon Tax in court; a threat to manufacturing and jobs, they say
  • Two firsts for Ontario as energy storage systems certified
  • Canada-EU free trade deal in jeopardy over investor protection
  • Supply of oil at record highs, at 100 million barrels a day for the “first time ever”; expected to grow
  • Artificial pancreas would reduce need for self-care by diabetics, improve insulin delivery
  • SpaceX "first orbital class rocket capable of reflight" test flight today: $12 billion in contracts and a 100 missions at stake: live feed of launch
  • Unusual hydrogen car could soon be built in UK
  • Supercapacitors Increase Performance and Longevity, Charge in Minutes
  • Powering the Future through Protonic Ceramic Fuel Cells?
  • How Greener Grids Can Stay Lit
  • Vehicle sales, mainly light trucks, continued to soar in January
  • Drilling rigs growth depends more and more on LNG
  • Bombardier CS100 certified by Transport Canada
  • Economy showed mix of strength (exports), weakness (investment) in Q3
  • US moves to cut coal-fired emissions highlight rift with Canada
  • High speed rail finally coming to Toronto-Windsor corridor? What will Ontario high speed look like?
  • Civil Engineering Design: What it Takes to Engineer the World’s Longest Tunnels
Scroll to Top