NEW WESTMINSTER – The City of New Westminster is joining the growing list of B.C. municipalities participating in the Province’s Tall Wood Initiative that allows the construction of 12-storey mass timber buildings.

This provides the opportunity to create innovative and greener housing options.

Twenty-one communities are now participating in the initiative. Along with the City of Vancouver, which has its own similar initiative, 59% of 2020 housing starts in the province are represented in these communities, up from 57%.

“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 Tall Wood Initiative advances the Province’s CleanBC 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.

“Mass timber design and construction is creating some of the most striking new buildings functioning at the highest levels of energy efficiency,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “Mass timber technology is a great example of CleanBC in action, building low-carbon communities and creating a stronger and cleaner future across our province.”

The use of mass timber also aligns with the Province’s goal of transitioning the forest sector from high-volume to high-value production, maximizing the value of B.C.’s renewable resources. As B.C. builds back from the COVID-19 pandemic, the provincial government wants to create a more diverse and resilient forest sector, supporting new jobs in the green economy and in skilled professions, including the construction industry.

“Mass timber is the construction material of the future and key to diversifying and creating a more resilient forest sector,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. “By focusing on mass timber, we have an opportunity to transition the forestry sector to create sustainable forestry jobs across the province.”

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.

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.

To further advance mass timber projects, the Province has established the Mass Timber Demonstration Program. It provides funding to eligible applicants for the design, research, construction and demonstration of mass timber buildings. Combined, these initiatives will inform the Mass Timber Action Plan, which is under development.

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