City Hall said there has not been interest in constructing wood buildings larger than six storeys in Maple Ridge so far. (The News files)

City Hall said there has not been interest in constructing wood buildings larger than six storeys in Maple Ridge so far. (The News files)

Will 12-storey wood buildings come to Maple Ridge?

City building six storeys, not part of province’s Tall Wood initiative

It was only in 2010 that wood frame apartment buildings rose from four storeys to six, but now they are taking a quantum leap to 12 storeys in height – but not yet in Maple Ridge.

The province announced in March of 2019 that it would change the building code to allow taller wood construction buildings. Now, several cities have announced they are getting on board with this initiative.

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The City of New Westminster is the latest of 21 communities to join the province’s Tall Wood initiative, which the province touts as “innovative and greener.”

“Our partnership with the City of New Westminster in the Tall Wood Initiative brings us closer to reaching our mutual climate-action goals, and to building stronger and healthier communities for people in B.C.,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “Using mass timber creates good-paying jobs, strengthens our forestry and manufacturing sectors, and helps us build a more sustainable, resilient and innovative economy for all British Columbians.”

The province says Tall Wood advances B.C.’s climate goals by encouraging the construction of more sustainable buildings with smaller carbon footprints. In addition, building with mass timber is faster, with less site noise and traffic associated with construction.

Maple Ridge is not yet on board, said Christine Carter, city general manager of planning.

“The province of B.C. has been exploring this option for wood buildings for some time,” she said. “In Maple Ridge the height of buildings is dictated by the OCP (Official Community Plan) and Zoning Bylaw, and construction standards are regulated by Building Code. Should someone wish to construct a building taller than permitted in either bylaw, council approval would be required.”

But she didn’t rule it out in future.

“Our staff are seeking more information on the province’s administration for wood buildings at the greater heights to determine how it would impact an application for this type of building in our community,” said Carter. “We currently have had, and are having buildings constructed in the six story range for wood frame.”

When the province introduced the Tall Wood Initiative in 2019, local governments were invited to submit an expression of interest to be early adopters of mass timber buildings up to 12 storeys ahead of changes to the National Building Code.

Some of the cities that have joined the initiative include Surrey, Abbotsford, Langley, Coquitlam, Kelowna, North and West Vancouver, and Victoria.

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When the next version of the National Building Code is released this year, it is expected to include provisions to allow 12-storey mass timber construction across Canada. These will be reflected in the next edition of the BC Building Code, enabling the construction of 12-storey mass timber buildings throughout British Columbia.

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