May 22 - Building Industry Releases Report, calls for changes to OBC that will result in safe, affordable homes

May 22, 2013

Building Industry Releases Report: Industry calls for changes to Ontario Building Code that will result in safe, affordable homes for GTA residents

GREATER TORONTO, May 22, 2013 - An extensive report advocating for an Ontario Building Code change that will result in the construction of safe, affordable homes for residents across the GTA was released earlier today by the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON) and the Canadian Wood Council.

"It's good urban planning, it's safe and it's good for future homebuyers in the GTA and across Ontario," said Bryan Tuckey, BILD President and CEO.

"We're calling on the Ontario government to change the Code to allow for six-storey woodframe construction to help unlock the immense potential in neighbourhoods that have underutilized land on major avenues and corridors.

"Our report shows that these lands are often well-served by existing infrastructure and transit, and mid-rise buildings can help to meet the demand of the increasing population of our region, offering a variety of sizes and design features for people of all ages."

Currently, the Ontario Building Code limits woodframe construction to four storeys. The building industry is advocating for a change to the Code to allow for up to six-storey woodframe construction, which will result in the affordable construction of mid-rise buildings.

"Building mid-rise housing becomes more expensive when you go above four storeys because you have to use materials like concrete and steel," said Leith Moore, President of the Ontario Home Builders' Association and Vice President, Development at Sorbara Development Group.

"If the Ontario Building Code allowed for six-storey woodframe construction, costs would go down and options for new homebuyers would go up."

Strong planning and economic rationales are outlined in the report, Unlocking the Potential for Mid-Rise Buildings: Six Storey Wood Structures, commissioned by BILD and authored by former City of Toronto Chief Planner Paul Bedford.

In addition, BILD and the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON) commissioned a complementary report, Mid-rise Combustible Construction in Ontario - Building Code Issues, to investigate fire safety issues related to an increased use of combustible material in construction.

"The number of fire incidents does not increase just because buildings have more combustible material. Our study found that data collected by the National Fire Incident Reporting System doesn't show that fire incidents are related to the type of construction, rather to the use and occupancy of the building," said Richard Lyall, President of RESCON.

"As well, the National Fire Code and regulations in Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act contain many provisions for construction projects that address potential fire hazards and provide solutions to reduce risks. Woodframe buildings have to meet the same standards as those built using other materials," added Marianne Berube, Executive Director, Ontario Wood Works, Canadian Wood Council.

The changes to the Ontario Building Code would be similar to changes made to the British Columbia Building Code in 2009, which had an immediate impact on the local economy. With B.C. as a case study, Ontario can expect increased job creation, increased tax revenue from the addition of new residences, more affordable options for new homebuyers and a minimized carbon footprint in the construction of these buildings.

About BILD
With more than 1,400 members, BILD, formed through the merger of the Greater Toronto Home Builders' Association and Urban Development Institute/Ontario, is the voice of the land development, home building and professional renovation industry in the Greater Toronto Area.  BILD is proudly affiliated with the Ontario and Canadian Home Builders' Associations.

About OHBA
The Ontario Home Builders' Association is the voice of the residential construction industry in Ontario representing 4,000 member companies organized into 30 local associations across the province. The industry contributes over $42 billion dollars to Ontario's economy, employing more than 325,000 people across the province.

RESCON is a builders' organization dedicated to removing barriers to new construction and eliminating unnecessary costs. It coordinates a council of trade contractor associations to address issues of common concern. RESCON represents a melding of the old with the new. It is a streamlining of the ongoing efforts of three groups active in promoting builder interests for over thirty years: the Metropolitan Toronto Apartment Builders Association (MTABA), the Toronto Residential Construction Labour Bureau (TRCLB) and the Durham Residential Construction Labour Bureau (DRCLB). Along with new builder members, RESCON brings a more powerful and concerted builder voice to the many pressing issues which affect the bottom line.

About Canadian Wood Council
The Canadian Wood Council (CWC) is the national association representing manufacturers of Canadian wood products used in construction - enabling the selling of Canadian wood products through programs and services focused on creating market access and demand. Wood WORKS! Ontario is a national industry-led initiative of the Canadian Wood Council, with a goal to support innovation and provide leadership on the use of wood and wood products.

To obtain a detailed press kit or to schedule an interview, contact:

Amy Lazar
Manager, Communications
416-391-3452 or 416-543-3903

Andrei Zaretski
Manager, Marketing & Media Relations
416-391-3450 or 416-843-4898