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Mid-rise wood use a needed evolution: advocates

by DON PROCTER 

Ontario’s building scene is about to undergo an evolution in residential design as developers take advantage of building code changes that permit residential mid-rises (up to six storeys) to be constructed in wood. 
Mid-rise wood use a needed evolution: advocates

The code change came into effect Jan. 1, making Ontario the second province, after British Columbia, to allow wood constructed mid-rises.

"There are many design teams now being retained by developers who actually have plans, land and finances in place to start taking advantage of these new rules," says Steven Street, technical director at Ontario Wood WORKS!, a national campaign organized to increase the use of wood in commercial, industrial and institutional construction.

Street was one of the speakers at the recent Toronto Mid-Rise Symposium, organized to help the building and design community understand the new rules.

"This gives the province a real catalyst for new opportunities in mid-rise," Street says of the code changes.

While mid-rise wood buildings are not overly complicated to design and construct, he says the building and design community faces a learning curve because the projects must meet commercial (not residential) design and construction standards. When the first buildings start to rise out of the ground — possibly before the end of the year — they will be required to meet stringent safety standards including fire planning, fencing, 24-hour security and other requirements normally associated with large commercial developments.

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