By The Canadian Press
Aug. 19, 2015, Montreal - The Quebec government is hoping to give a shot in the arm to the province's forestry sector by allowing lumber to be used in the construction of buildings up to 12 storeys tall.
Premier Philippe Couillard says regulation changes were developed in consultation with the provincial agency responsible for the building code and with FPInnovations, a research institute.
Quebec said it is the first province in Canada to allow wood construction in taller buildings while still ensuring public safety.
At a news conference in Lac St-Jean, Couillard said Monday that the changes will stimulate the use of wood in construction and provide an "enormous'' potential for a sector that has seen the loss of thousands of jobs.
"The new impetus we give today will help revitalize an industry whose potential is huge,'' he told reporters.
Rule changes in 2010 allowed wood to be used in building with up to five or six floors. Ontario and British Columbia allow wood frame construction up to six stories while the other provinces limit them to four floors.
The Ontario Home Builders Association has said wood-frame construction is 20 per cent cheaper than steel and poured concrete for mid-rise buildings.
Quebec unveiled a 60-page technical guide for designing and constructing taller wooden buildings, including what type of lumber can be used, fire resistance and structural calculations.
FPInnovations said research in Canada and internationally has shown that safe buildings with more than six floors can be constructed using cross-laminated timber instead of light wood framing and mass timber construction materials.
It said Quebec is following European countries that permit similar wood-based construction methods.
"The Quebec construction industry now has the knowledge necessary to design and construct buildings to the highest possible standards of safety using wood, an abundant and renewable natural resource and a cornerstone of the Quebec economy,'' said CEO Pierre Lapointe.
Already, a group in Quebec City has announced plans for a 13- storey residential building comprising 12 floors made from wood.
The $25-million project, billed as the tallest wooden building in North America, is slated to open by the end of 2016. It will include 94 condos with one to three bedrooms built by a consortium formed by builder EBC, Nordic Engineered Wood and Synchro Immobilier.
The Forest Products Association of Canada welcomed Quebec's move.
"We know that the science and technology have changed to make sure that these kinds of buildings can be built safely,'' said Susan Murray, vice-president for public relations.