British Columbia

Mass timber projects in B.C. moving ahead with provincial funding

British Columbia is increasing its support and enthusiasm for construction projects that utilize mass timber technology — small pieces of wood compressed together with glue and nails to make lumber.

New action plan action shows B.C. could have up to 10 new mass-timber manufacturers by 2035

University of Victoria's new student housing and dining building made of mass timber and concrete is pictured under construction in May 2021. (Beth Doman)

British Columbia is increasing its support and enthusiasm for construction projects that utilize mass timber technology — small pieces of wood compressed together with glue and nails to make lumber.

The province announced this week further support to build four housing and infrastructure projects using mass timber, including a new building at the University of Victoria.

Ravi Kahlon, minister of jobs, economic recovery and innovation, announced the province's action plan for mass timber on Thursday along with $1.2 million in funding for projects.

"Mass timber is a triple-word score," he said in a release. "It allows us to reduce our carbon footprint from construction, it adds value to our forestry sector, and it provides new opportunities for jobs, growth and innovation in every corner of the province."

Kahlon made the announcement at the University of Victoria, which is among those to get $1.2 million in funding that will be used to help build a 783-bed housing and dining facility set to open in September.

The university also has two other mass timber projects in the works including an engineering and computer science building and a centre for Indigenous laws.

 

Josh Zakala, a fifth-year engineering student at UVic, said in a release that he's excited to start his career as a civil engineer in an era that is recognizing the benefits of mass timber projects.

"I'm thrilled to ... see projects like this come to life and support sustainability and mitigate climate change," he said. "Without question, using mass timber is a positive step forward in engineering and building construction."

Plans for the province's mass timber demonstration program include four new projects, which range from multi-unit homes to mixed-use commercial and industrial buildings.

The province said that, to date, it has invested $575 million into seven different projects that involve mass timber at post-secondary institutions throughout B.C. 

Mass timber reduces carbon emissions

Kahlon told a news conference on Thursday that large-diameter trees are not needed to make mass timber.

Instead, the building material can be made by piecing together smaller pieces of wood with glue and nails.

He says mass timber can match or exceed the strength of concrete and steel while reducing carbon emissions by up to 45 per cent.

The minister says B.C. could have as many as 10 new mass timber manufacturers by 2035, which could fill an anticipated 4,400 jobs in manufacturing, construction and design.

Meanwhile B.C.'s forestry minister, Katrine Conroy said mass timber will help the future of forestry in the province by ensuring more value is gained from trees that are harvested.

With files from the Canadian Press

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