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A dozen mid-rise wooden buildings on the way after Ontario code changes

Almost a year ago, new rules came into effect allowing Ontario builders to use wooden construction for buildings of up to six storeys.

It’s a policy change aimed at “increase opportunities for designers and builders to create innovative, flexible and affordable new buildings,” and follows building code changes that took place in British Columbia in 2009. Since then, that province has seen more than 200 wooden mid-rise projects and Ontario builders have watched and learned from what’s happened there.

“Builders are really embracing this change and this new building option. There’s definitely a lot of collaboration happening,” says Pauline Lip, senior technical advisor, Ontario Home Builders’ Association.

Wooden buildings are estimated to cost up to 10 per cent less than buildings constructed from non-combustible materials. By permitting them, Ontario is trying to encourage more mid-rise buildings and increased densification since they may be economically feasible on sites where other types of buildings wouldn’t be. “This has really been the next step in unlocking the intensification targets that support the provincial growth plan,” says Lip. “From the home buyer’s standpoint, we have the ability to provide more affordable housing options that have more innovative design.” The new rules come with strict fire and safety regulations that are currently undergoing the process of being implemented.

Since last January, about a dozen mid-rise wooden projects have come out of the gates across the province and are in various stages of planning and approval. While the first to have broken ground was the Sandman Hotel in Hamilton, a $12-million 209-unit development, Quadrangle Architects is aiming to build the first in Toronto. This month the firm, working with Fieldgate Urban and Hullmark Developments, submitted a building permit application for Heartwood the Beach Condos at 1884 Queen Street East. The 40-unit residential project will have street-level retail and target the city’s Tier 2 Green standards.

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Pauline Lip
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