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New mass timber rules boost for Castlegar manufacturer

Kalesnikoff Mass Timber is poised for another expansion
Manufacturing at Kalesnikoff’s South Slocan mass timber facility. Photo: Betsy Kline

Changes to the BC Building Code that expand the uses of mass timber products in construction are good news for Kalesnikoff Mass Timber.

The updates allow for mass timber to be used in taller buildings, expanding the cap in residential and office buildings from 12 to 18 stories. They also allow for more uses in places such as schools, shopping centres, libraries, retail, light- and medium-industrial projects and care facilities.

The changes also allow more exposed mass timber in buildings.

Other provinces are expected to follow B.C.’s lead and Ontario is already working on similar legislation.

“From our standpoint, our goal is to bring as much mass timber solutions to communities throughout North America as is practical,” Kalesnikoff’s sales manager Devin Harding told Castlegar News in an interview.

Mass timber is a new kind of construction approach where the design team takes into consideration what it takes to manufacture, transport and install the products right from the start. It creates a more comprehensive building at the design phase and every step gets integrated into a digital model that can be checked for trucking requirements, construction requirements, manufacturing specifications and on-site needs.

Harding says seeing more mass timber buildings permitted is also good for the environment.

“Mass timber will help displace some of the more carbon intensive building materials and it has a lot of the environmental benefits of being a renewable resource.”

He adds that the wood used in mass-timber has a lot less embodied carbon and more stored carbon compared to steel or concrete.

Harding says the code changes will help Kalesnikoff’s clients to convert other construction style buildings to mass timber because they now have more certainty in terms the permitting process.

The company’s mass timber production has already expanded several times since it’s $35-million investment was first announced in 2019.

In March, Kalesnikoff announced a further expansion with the construction of a third plant in the Castlegar-Nelson corridor. Harding said that knowing this legislation was on the way played a role in the decision to expand.

Ground-breaking on the new plant is anticipated soon with a targeted opening by the end of 2024. Once complete, the new facility will create up to 90 new jobs.

Harding says it is exciting to see the appetite that is out there for mass timber and how people engage with wooden structure buildings.

“What we really want to do is support our clients, to be able to deliver different building styles and types that really resonate with their final occupants and residents.”

Mass timber also helps to work around the North American construction industry labour shortage as assembling mass timber buildings takes fewer workers than traditional construction.

“The timing is obviously good for mass timber right now with housing being such a hot-button topic everywhere and the need to get more houses built quickly,” said Harding.

He also touts the local benefits.

“The more value we can add to the lumber that we’re harvesting from the Kootenays, the better we can serve our clients, but also the better we can serve the community here.”

In the few years that Kalesnikoff’s mass timber facility has been operating, they have produced materials for a wide scope of building types including schools, libraries, community centres, offices, medical buildings, warehouses and multi-family residences. They have shipped products across Canada, into the U.S. Pacific Northwest and even as far away as North Carolina.

They have also supplied mass timber for The Confluence, the new West Kootenay Regional Visitor Centre and Castlegar Chamber of Commerce building set to open in Castlegar soon.

“It’s really always nice to work within the community and show people what we have to offer because we’re getting quite a bit of uptake on this product throughout North America.”

RELATED: Kalesnikoff mill recognized with energy efficiency award

Manufacturing at Kalesnikoff’s South Slocan mass timber facility. Photo: Betsy Kline

Betsy Kline

About the Author: Betsy Kline

After spending several years as a freelance writer for the Castlegar News, Betsy joined the editorial staff as a reporter in March of 2015. In 2020, she moved into the editor's position.
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