Ontario announces new investments in mass timber building technology

The Province of Ontario is investing in research, education and construction of tall wood buildings so more wood products can be used in new homes and taller buildings through the new Mass Timber Program. This program is part of Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan and is funded by proceeds from the province’s carbon market.

mass timber, The Arbour, Province of Ontario
A sectional perspective of The Arbour. Photo via Moriyama & Teshima Architects.

Providing $3.15 million for research and development of the next generation of mass timber building systems, the provincial program is partnering with:

  • The Centre for Research and Innovation in the Bio-economy (CRIBE) to manufacture innovative wood building products and systems
  • National Research Council to develop a mass timber connection testing guide, and to study the climate resilience of tall wood buildings
  • FPInnovations to support the application of Ontario’s Tall Wood Building Reference with industry and to conduct research for several mass timber building products.

Mass Timber Skills Development and Training

The Mass Timber Program is providing $2.2 million to support specialized training for architects, engineers, designers, builders, educators and the trades by partnering with:

  • The College of Carpenters and Allied Trades and the Carpenters Union to develop and deliver an innovative wood building and connection system training module
  • Design Build Research to develop the Timber Online Education (TOE) institute for a global community of experts to provide continuing education for wood construction
  • The Canadian Wood Council to provide training for existing professionals and regulators on the best uses of mass timber building systems
  • The University of Toronto, George Brown College, Lakehead University, Laurentian University, University of Ottawa and FPInnovations to establish a mass timber research and education centre in Ontario.

Mass Timber Institute of Ontario

The Mass Timber Institute will be Canada’s first collaborative network to focus on research, development and specialized education in mass timber design and construction. Once fully established, virtual classes will be taught along with opportunities for hands on training, including living laboratory experiences at several of the demonstration projects.

Tall Wood Building Demonstration Projects

Under the current Ontario Building Code (OBC), buildings constructed of wood can only be six storeys tall. The costs and timelines associated with seeking special approvals (an Alternative Solution under the OBC) to construct taller wooden buildings often cause builders to opt for concrete or steel instead.

Ontario is providing up to $2.45 million to offset the costs associated with four mass timber building projects. These projects will provide valuable transferable knowledge that can be used in future tall wood construction projects, resulting in lower costs and will pave the way for future changes to the OBC.

Tall wood demonstration projects include:

George Brown College’s Arbour development:  planned to be a 12-storey building that will be the most carbon friendly building in Canada, constructed almost entirely of mass timber. It will house the college’s School of Computer Technology and act as a living laboratory for students of tall wood construction.

The University of Toronto’s Academic Tower: planned to be the tallest mass timber and concrete hybrid building in North America, this 14-storey building will act as a living laboratory for students learning skills in mass timber construction.

The Green Vision Waterfront Development: planned to be a residential condominium complex consisting of three, 12-storey buildings on the shores of Lake Nipissing in downtown North Bay. The first floor of these buildings, and their adjoining parking garages, will be constructed with concrete, and the remaining 11 storeys with wooden panels. These buildings will be used as living laboratories for students, and will contribute to the sustainability highlighted in North Bay’s Downtown Waterfront Master Plan.

The 57 Wade Avenue development: planned to be an eight-storey office building in Toronto. This building’s construction will incorporate timber beams and an innovative floor assembly that will result in exposed wooden ceilings to the office space below.