Kootenay mill plans 'mass' expansion

On the heels of changes to BC’s Building Code allowing 12-storey wood buildings, a family-run mill in the Kootenays is planning a $35 million dollar 'mass timber' expansion.

B.C. building codes will be altered to allow wood construction buildings to reach 12 storeys, up from 6

Kalesnikoff Lumber near Castlegar is planning a major expansion after the province announced amendments to the B.C. Building Code earlier this week to permit 12-storey wood buildings. (Google Street View)

On the heels of changes to B.C.'s Building Code to allow 12-storey wood buildings, a family-run mill in the Kootenays is planning a $35 million dollar 'mass timber' expansion.

Mass timber is a replacement for steel in tall buildings and is just starting to get a foothold in North America.

Kalesnikoff Lumber near Castlegar will get in on the future of tall building construction by building a mass timber manufacturing plant.

The company says it will begin manufacturing wood panels later this year at a plant between Castlegar and Nelson.

"It's really exciting for our business and our family. We are a fourth generation business, and we are looking for ways to grow our business and stabilize our business, and this is a really important step," says Chris Kalesnikoff, chief operating officer at Kalesnikoff.

Chris Kalesnikoff, right, at the construction site of his new mass timber facility in South Slocan, BC (Kalesnikoff Lumber)

On Wednesday, the B.C. NDP announced changes to the province's building code to allow for taller buildings made of wood.

Premier John Horgan says the changes will increase the allowed height for wood  buildings from six to 12 storeys.

Horgan made the announcement at a timber production company in Okanagan Falls near Penticton that has been a North American leader in wood products used in buildings.

He says the new limits come one year ahead of expected changes to the national building code, which are also expected to increase height limits for wood buildings to 12 storeys.

Expansion to provide immediate employment

The premier says wood construction buildings are fire resistant, environmentally sustainable and add value to timber products.

The tallest building made of mass timber is Brock Commons Tallwood House at UBC — an 18-storey wood-concrete hybrid.

Kalesnikoff says the new mass timber plant in the Kootenays will put 50 people to work once built and employ more during construction.

He says it can manufacture the wood panels using its current wood supply.

"It's all beneficial and exciting for us to take that product we already put time and energy and value into and take it one step further into our new facility." 

Kalesnikoff says they hope to be open later this year will full production in 2020.