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B.C. building code adjusted upwards to allow 12-storey wood buildings

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OKANAGAN FALLS, B.C. — The height limit for wood buildings in British Columbia is rising to 12 from six storeys in a move that Premier John Horgan expects to spur development using timber and give the province a headstart on other parts of the country.

B.C. is changing its building code to allow the construction of taller wood buildings as a safe, economic and environmental alternative to concrete apartments and office buildings, Horgan said Wednesday.

B.C.’s building code changes come one year ahead of expected changes in the national building code, which are also expected to increase height limits for wood buildings to 12 storeys, Horgan said.

“We’re not waiting for the rest of the country to get here,” said Horgan. “We already know that the product we’re building, that we’re creating here, is fire resistant. We know that we can build faster and we know it’s better for the environment.”

He said he expects local governments and First Nations to approve more wood buildings for family apartments, student residences and business locations.

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

“We need to get more value out of every log,” he said. “It’s cost effective. It’s environmentally sensitive and it’s putting British Columbians to work with a B.C. product.”

A mass timber building is one where the primary load-bearing structure is made of either solid or engineered wood. Encapsulated mass timber is where the timber components are surrounded by fire-resistant materials like drywall.

Hardy Wentzel, chief executive officer of Structurlam, said the height change allows the company to continue being an innovator on mass timber products and building designs.

He said the company uses B.C. wood, including spruce, pine and fir.

Canada is a leader in wood technology, using different forms of timber and lumber to create products that can be formed into pre-fabricated wood used as beams, columns, walls, arches, floors and roofs, says the Canadian Wood Council.

Wentzel said mass timber buildings are safe and faster to build, but the long-standing tradition of concrete buildings holds strong.

“The builders may be set in their ways, but when they actually do the economics of building 12-storey wood buildings versus a 12-storey concrete building, and they do a full cradle to grave analysis, they’re going to find this is the better way to build,” he said.

Eric Andreasen, vice-president of sales and marketing at Vancouver building company Adera, welcomed the change, which he said will likely convince more developers to consider wood buildings.

“I do believe a lot of people are going to start having an awareness and that’s going to lead to more tall wood construction,” he said. “It’s got some natural characteristics and it just looks better.”

A Housing Ministry news release says mass timber buildings meet or exceed performance standards for safety, structural resilience and fire protection. It says the 17-storey Brock Commons student residence at the University of British Columbia was the world’s tallest mass-timber building when it opened in 2017.

— By Dirk Meissner in Victoria

 

The Canadian Press

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Leaders, moderators confirmed for 2019 English, French debates

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federal debate

OTTAWA — Five party leaders have confirmed they will participate in two major televised election debates in October, the media group producing the events announced Tuesday.

The Canadian Debate Production Partnership said Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh, Green party Leader Elizabeth May and the Bloc Quebecois’ Yves-Francois Blanchet will all attend the English debate Oct. 7 and the French one Oct. 10.

Both events are to be held at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que. Election day is Oct. 21.

The Leaders’ Debates Commission, an independent body set up to organize the debates this year, sent invitations to the five confirmed leaders last week but did not offer a spot to Maxime Bernier, leader of the People’s Party of Canada.

The PPC did not meet criteria established by the federal government for participation in the debates, the commission found. But the commission gave the party until Sept. 9 to provide further evidence that they have a chance at winning multiple seats in the fall, which could earn Bernier a spot at the events.

In its announcement Tuesday, the partnership also revealed the moderators for the English debate: CBC’s Rosemary Barton, Susan Delacourt of the Toronto Star, Global’s Dawna Friesen, CTV’s Lisa LaFlamme and Althia Raj of HuffPost Canada.

Patrice Roy of Radio-Canada will moderate the French debate, along with journalists from French outlets Le Devoir, Le Soleil, La Presse and L’Actualite.

Also on Tuesday, Maclean’s magazine announced it will partner with Citytv to hold a debate Sept. 12 in Toronto. Maclean’s said leaders for the Tories, NDP and Greens have confirmed their participation so far.

“The Liberals have not yet confirmed Justin Trudeau’s participation but an invitation remains open and the debate will go forward regardless,” the magazine said in a post on its website.

Columnist Paul Wells will moderate the debate, which will focus on the economy, foreign policy, Indigenous issues, and energy and the environment.

The Sept. 12 date makes the Maclean’s event the first major debate in the election period, though it remains unclear precisely when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau plans to officially fire the starting gun. The latest he can do so is Sept. 15.

Christian Paas-Lang, The Canadian Press



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Music composer from France killed by bear while working in northern Canada

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Julien Gauthier

YELLOWKNIFE — A Canadian composer living in France has been killed while working in the Northwest Territories.

French media reports say Julien Gauthier was attacked last week by a bear.

The RCMP did not name the victim but said the body of a man was found on Friday after a bear attack near Tulita along the Mackenzie River.

The Brittany Symphony Orchestra in northwest France posted a statement on Facebook announcing the death of its associate artist.

The symphony said Gauthier had been collecting sounds in the remote region and was travelling with a researcher he had met in the Antarctic.

The post said Gauthier wanted to use music to show his love and respect for nature.

“His work was faithful to his inquisitive mind, humble in front of the vast power and beauty of nature,” said the post written by Marc Feldman, a manager with the symphony.

“I am extremely happy to have known Julien. He brought me a sense of adventure, wonder and a rare intelligence. I am going to miss him terribly. We still had so much road to travel together.”

Gauthier’s web page says he also taught music at the Gennevilliers Conservatory and worked with the Paris Philharmonic.

The Canadian Press

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august, 2019

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