Changes to Ontario Building Code allow wood-frame buildings up to six storeys

Ontario is introducing safer, more flexible and affordable design options for the construction of wood-frame buildings. Through changes to the Ontario Building Code effective January 1, 2015, wood-frame buildings can now be built up to six storeys high, raising the limit from four storeys. Most European Union and several North American jurisdictions allow wood-frame buildings up to six storeys. In British Columbia, over 50 wood-frame buildings have been built since its building code was changed in 2009.

The changes give builders a safe option that can help make building a home more affordable and support more attractive, pedestrian-oriented buildings that enhance streetscapes while continuing to protect the safety of residents and firefighters. Ontario’s mid-rise wood frame construction requirements offer the highest degree of public and firefighter safety in Canada. New safety requirements for wood frame buildings that include building stairwells with non-combustible materials and roofs that are combustion resistant now make Ontario’s regulations the most rigorous in Canada.

Safe and flexible building options that help make housing more affordable and support our forest industry is part of the government’s plan to invest in people, build modern infrastructure and supporting a dynamic and innovative business climate. More demand for mid-rise wood buildings may help generate new demand for forestry products, which currently supports more than 150,000 direct and indirect jobs in more than 260 communities across Ontario.

For more information about these new changes, please visit

In response to the above announcement, Michael Giroux, President of the Canadian Wood Council, said: “These changes are the result of a lengthy, carefully considered process that involved a great deal of consultation and input from all stakeholders.”

Marianne Berube, Executive Director for Ontario Wood WORKS!, agrees and explains that “the changes to Ontario’s Building Code offer designers new opportunities for innovation that will help municipalities meet urban densification plans and create more affordable housing options. We look forward to the new mid-rise buildings that will be created as a result of these changes.”

Changes to the Ontario Building Code are similar to ones made to the British Columbia Building Code in 2009, which had an immediate positive impact on the local economy. Now Ontario builders have the opportunity to use wood in mid-rise construction – a viable, code-compliant construction option that meets the safety, health, accessibility, as well as fire and structural requirements of the code.

“It is encouraging to see the province adopt changes to the Ontario Building Code that will permit wood-frame construction for mid-rise buildings.” Explains Mayor David Canfield of Kenora and President of the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association (NOMA). “This is going to have a positive impact on rebuilding the forest industry across Northern Ontario.”

Alan Spacek, Mayor of Kapuskasing and President of the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities says, “The construction of six-storey wood-frame buildings will increase the demand for Ontario wood products, benefitting the forestry industry and more broadly, the northern economy. A thriving forestry sector will help to sustain jobs, create new ones, and encourage investment and innovation into new processes and technologies – all while using a renewable, environmentally friendly resource.”

For additional information on the new wood mid-rise opportunity, please visit