The expansion of the Royal B.C. Museum in Victoria and the replacement of St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver will showcase the province’s leading role in mass timber construction, Premier John Horgan says.
Speaking to the Council of Forest Industries convention in Vancouver Friday, Horgan referred to his recent visit to Structurlam’s cross-laminated timber factory in Okanagan Falls, where he announced the B.C. Building Code is being changed to increase maximum timber construction height from six storeys to 12.
“Building the new museum from B.C. wood honours the past, while showcasing our bright future in engineered wood design,” Horgan said. “I have asked that the new St. Paul’s use mass timber wherever possible, without affecting building height or view corridors.”
The museum and hospital projects are “just the beginning” for the revitalization of B.C.’s forest industry, Horgan told delegates to B.C.’s largest industry convention. Other public construction projects will also showcase B.C. technology.
Horgan described letters he wrote to B.C. Interior forest company executives this week, inviting them to start talks with Indigenous and union leaders on how they can make more efficient use of existing licensed timber supply, which has dropped significantly in the wake of beetle epidemics across the province.
“If we don’t have a transformation from the high-volume to the high-value economy, we’re going to be in trouble,” Horgan told reporters after the speech.
He cited the decision announced by Kalesnikoff Lumber to build a new engineered timber plant in the Kootenays, which came the day after his visit to Structurlam, a pioneer of engineered wood with operations in Penticton and Okanagan Falls.
Structurlam has expanded into the United States, and is supplying mass timber components for a wide variety of projects, including Microsoft’s new campus in Mountain View, California, the heart of Silicon Valley.