Kelowna looks at letting developers build 12-storey wooden buildings | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna looks at letting developers build 12-storey wooden buildings

Construction of wooden towers up to 12 storeys high would mean less disruption to neighbourhoods because of the shorter assembly time.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / City of Kelowna

KELOWNA - The high-rise building boom in downtown Kelowna means neighbours have to put up with construction noise and traffic disruptions for a year or more for each tower that goes up.

That could change for some neighbourhoods if Kelowna city council agrees to be an early adopter of new rules allowing for wooden towers to be built up to 12 storeys.

Right now, wooden buildings can only be six storeys tall. Anything higher has to be built of steel and concrete.

Changes to the national and provincial building codes are being made to allow for 12-storey wooden towers, but the new rules won’t be in place for at least two or three years.

So, the province is encouraging cities like Kelowna to allow for the taller wooden buildings in advance of the formal rules, making it more likely developers will adopt the new system sooner.

The big advantage of building with wood is that the time to actually put up the building will be greatly reduced.

“The development community can save assembly time because all of the components of the building will be pre-manufactured,” Mo Bayat, the city’s development services department director told

“The good thing is, there is not as much impact to the neighbourhood with the concrete trucks coming and pumping trucks and the noise and nuisance for the neighbourhood with traffic going back and forth. So that time frame will be reduced to several weeks.”

The wooden towers are also one fifth the weight of traditional steel and concrete.

The Wood Innovation and Design Centre in Prince George led the way with the use of new fire-resistant wood construction when it opened its eight-storey tower in 2014. That was followed by the Tallwood House student residence in the Brock Commons at UBC in Vancouver in 2017. At 18 storeys, it’s the tallest wooden building in the world, and Bayat said it took only 70 days to assemble.

Whether wooden towers will be cheaper, remains to be seen, Bayat said, since the technology is so new. While time is saved in assembly, it takes time to build the components in preparation for that work.

If the technique takes off, he expects the rules to change in the future to allow for even taller buildings to be made out of wood.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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