Builders urge Ontario government to allow six-storey woodframe structuresCanadian Contractor Fire
Currently, builders in Ontario are not permitted to build wooden structures higher than four storeys. But when B.C. increased the height limit to six storeys in 2009, it created jobs in the industry and provided more affordable options for new homebuyers, Ontario builder and developer groups argue.
Builders and other industry groups are advocating for an Ontario Building Code change that would allow the construction of six storey woodframe structures, up from the current four storey limitation. They say the changes to the code would be similar to changes made to the British Columbia Building Code in 2009, which they say had an immediate impact on the local economy.
On May 22 the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON) and the Canadian Wood Council released an extensive report arguing for the change.
“It’s good urban planning, it’s safe and it’s good for future homebuyers in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) and across Ontario,” said Bryan Tucker, BILD President and CEO. “We’re calling on the Ontario government to change the Code to allow for six-storey woodframe construction to help unlock the immense potential in neighbourhoods that have underutilized land on major avenues and corridors.
“Our report shows that these lands are often well-served by existing infrastructure and transit, and mid-rise builders can help to meet the demand of the increasing population of our region, offering a variety of sizes and design features for people of all ages.”
Leith Moore, president of the Ontario Home Builders’ Association said that “Building mid-rise housing becomes more expensive when you go above four storeys because you have to use materials like concrete and steel.” Moore is vice-president, development, at Sorbara Development Group. “If the Ontario Building Code allowed for six-storey woodframe construction, costs would go down and options for new homebuyers would go up.”
The report which these organizations are presenting in support of their claims is called Unlocking the Potential for Mid-Rise Buildings: Six Storey Wood Structures. It was commissioned by BILD and authored by former City of Toronto chief planner Paul Bedford.
In addition, BILD and RESCON commissioned an accompanying report that argues that the number of fire incidents does not increase just because buildings have more combustible materials. Fire incidents are not shown to be related to the type of construction, RESCON’s president Richard Lyall said, but to the use and occupancy of the building.