Mass timber investments to change face of B.C. construction

THE Province is providing funding for 12 mass timber demonstration and research projects and has established a new advisory council to accelerate the adoption of mass timber building systems, as part of the Province’s economic recovery.

“As we work to put the pandemic behind us, we will continue making strategic investments that position B.C. to come back stronger on the other side,” said Premier John Horgan on Wednesday. “Mass timber is good for forestry-dependent communities, workers and the environment – because it adds value rather than just volume. That’s why growing the sector is key to building a strong and sustainable economic recovery that reaches everyone.”

The $4.2-million investment in mass timber demonstration projects and research will help urban planners and developers adopt mass timber building systems by supporting the incremental or first-time costs of design development, research, permitting and construction activities. The projects will help advance CleanBC goals by sourcing from sustainably managed forests that have a lower carbon footprint.

The Province is also introducing a new mass timber advisory council. The advisory council is a group of experts from urban planning and development, First Nations, forest products industry, environmental non-profits, academia and local governments. The council will provide advice and guidance towards establishing B.C. as a leader in the production and use of mass timber, as well as the creation of a mass timber action plan.

“The face of construction is about to change in British Columbia through our government’s investments in mass timber,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “By encouraging greater use of mass timber, we are supporting jobs in research, design, engineering, construction and forestry using B.C. expertise and materials.”

The demonstration projects reflect a range of different building types and approaches to using mass timber that will highlight the versatility and performance of this building material. These include a firehall with strict post-disaster requirements, an Indigenous health and culture centre and low-cost housing on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

The research projects will study mass timber’s fire performance, the costs relative to steel and concrete, and carbon benefits. All project innovations and best practices will be broadly shared to promote learning and further advance mass timber use provincewide.

“B.C. is well positioned to be the world leader in sustainable design and construction innovations that can transform our economy and positively support our environment and climate footprint,” said Michael Green, architect and mass timber advisory council member. “I believe that mass timber will reshape our skylines with beautiful buildings that respond to the needs of our communities and planet. We are proud of the initiatives of the Province and peers as we move new ideas forward together.”

This announcement is part of B.C.’s $10-billion COVID-19 response, which includes StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan to focus on a recovery that is innovative, sustainable and inclusive. It outlines the latest steps the Government of British Columbia is taking to help people, businesses and communities come out of COVID-19 stronger, without leaving people behind.

Forestry Innovation Investment (FII) is delivering the Mass Timber Demonstration Program on behalf of the Province.

Quick Facts

* The StrongerBC investment of $3 million will fund five demonstration projects and four research projects. FII has repurposed $1.2 million of its budget to support an additional three demonstration projects.

* In 2019, the Province adopted new national building code provisions for 12-storey mass timber construction for interested communities. Twenty communities have opted in, and the City of Vancouver has also adopted similar provisions in its building bylaw.

* The Province has committed that government-funded buildings will be constructed with mass timber to the greatest extent possible. The Royal B.C. Museum’s new collections and research facility in Colwood and the new BCIT and Okanagan College student housing will use mass timber construction.

Learn More:

To learn more about B.C.’s Mass Timber Demonstration Program, visit: