The Ontario Government announced it is expanding the use of advanced wood construction like mass timber. Currently, Ontario’s Building Code allows Encapsulated Mass Timber Construction buildings to be up to 12-storeys tall. The province intends to amend the Building Code to permit encapsulated mass timber construction up to 18 storeys.

“The use of mass timber can help the sector build more homes faster, keep the cost of construction down and boost our northern economy,” said Paul Calandra, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “As we work to cut red tape in order to increase housing supply, we’re taking an innovative approach to help our partners get shovels in the ground.”

Encapsulated Mass Timber Construction offers an environmental solution for quieter and faster construction with the same fire and structural protection as other building methods. Provincial initiatives that support advanced wood construction, such as Ontario’s Forest Sector Strategy, offer a significant opportunity to shift housing construction offsite and into factories.

“Our abundant natural resources and highly-skilled forestry sector are helping to meet the demand for housing across the province,” said Graydon Smith, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. “Advanced wood construction will help bring long-term investments to northern communities that will create new, good-paying jobs while increasing housing supply and supporting Ontario’s largest renewable natural resource sector.”

As part of a thorough review of this opportunity, Ontario participated in a national consultation on proposed changes to Ontario’s Building Code that would allow for expanded use of mass timber in the province. The feedback will be analyzed by a multi-province Joint Task Group that will share a report of these findings that will be used to implement this change.

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“The Ontario Forest Industries Association (OFIA) applauds the government’s decision to expand the use of advanced wood construction, like mass timber, allowing for buildings up to 18 storeys. This move will not only accelerate home construction and reduce costs but also support forestry, technology, engineering, and manufacturing sectors. Using more wood in construction aligns with Ontario’s Forest Sector Strategy, promoting sustainability and economic growth. This initiative will benefit Ontario’s economy, environment, and communities.” said Ian Dunn, OFIA president and CEO.

Featured image: George Brown College’s low-carbon, net-zero Limberlost Place is already considered a new global model for mass timber construction. (Salina Kassam)

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